Planning permission has been granted for 9 houses designed by Hockerton Housing Project.
The earth-sheltered homes will be built on a greenfield site on the edge of a rural village. It is (rightly) not easy to get permission to build on such sites, and the owner had to take the case through to Appeal after the local Council refused permission.
One way to get planning permission on greenfield sites is to demonstrate outstanding architectural merit through an innovative design. This is notoriously difficult as the bar is constantly being raised, and features such as new technologies, complex shapes, height, and overall size add to land, design, build and running costs.
Our approach is the opposite. Our designs are simple and have exceptionally low running costs. However, we argue that we remain innovative so long as measures such as SAP and Passivhaus do not recognise our use of super-insulated thermal mass as a heat store.
The Appeals Inspector for this application recognised the many benefits of the form of our design but felt it was too simple in its aesthetic to get planning permission on the basis of architectural merit, and there was insufficient innovation in his view. That raises questions as to whether planning policy deters affordable housing in rural areas, but there is a positive in that the affordability of our design and the wider scheme remained pertinent to the final judgement.
Permission was granted on the basis that the greenfield site is not isolated and as such the homes would support the economic and social vitality of the village due to their energy saving credentials, size, appeal and affordability to young people and downsizers. Both the Council and the Appeal also recognised that the homes, with their earth-sheltering, related landscaping and reed beds will improve the biodiversity of the site.
The Newark Advertiser covers this month’s voting on our wind turbine, bringing success after five years of planning applications…
Conservation pioneers were celebrating this week after winning a five year battle to build an 85ft wind turbine to power their homes.
Newark and Sherwood District Council’s planning committee backed the Hockerton Housing Project’s latest bid to erect the electricity generating windmill at its meeting.
The proposals, which have divided opinion in Hockerton, were approved by the narrowest of margins – the committee finding in favour of the turbine four votes to three, with one abstention.
Residents of the project have been seeking approval for the scheme since January 1995 and have seen three applications fail.
An appeal to the Department of the Environment against the rejection of their application in August 1995 was dismissed on the grounds the turbine would be an eyesore.
But Mrs Trudi White, a Hockerton Housing Project resident, said the mood at the development was now jubilant.
“It is just fantastic. We have struggled for so long for this, repeatedly hitting our head against a brick wall and having to contend with some very nasty personal comments from objectors.
“We have continued because we believe it to be the right thing to do.”
Mrs White said the residents needed to raise £10,000 to build the turbine but they hoped to have it in place on Mystery Hill next year.
And she said she hoped the animosity between the supporters and objectors would subside.
“What I hope is that, in time, a lot of the concerns will be alleviated. I think people will realise there has been a lot of fuss about nothing.”
At last week’s planning meeting the turbine plan was criticised by the committee’s Conservative members.
Mr Keith Sheppard (Con) said although the Hockerton Housing Project residents would benefit from the turbine, it would be at a cost to other locals.
“It is going to be catering for them but at a price for the village. This structure of 80-odd foot only benefits five houses. If it was going to supply the village I could understand it, but it is not,” he said.
Mr Vincent Dobson (Con) said: “This is going to be a monster. What consideration have we got for the people that live close to it? I think it is outrageous,” he said.
Mrs Sylvia Michael (Con), whose Caunton ward includes the Hockerton site, also addressed the meeting.
She urged members to think carefully before making any decision and said she supported Hockerton Parish Council which objected to the scheme on visual grounds.
“Two hundred metres away from the nearest property is not very far for something that towers 85ft into the sky.”
But council leader Mr Stan Crawford (Lab), chairman of the Newark and Sherwood Energy Agency, strongly defended the turbine plan.
“It is about the future, not only of their families, but others and the wider community and, in fact, the planet.
“I think there is a lot of fear of the unknown. We are talking about the final piece of the jigsaw in a very innovative project.”