‘Grand Designs’ style home plan is rejected

A picture of the derelict and dilapidated cottage shown to the planning committee and (inset) the co

A picture of the derelict and dilapidated cottage shown to the planning committee and (inset) the concept of what the S-shaped cob and straw cottage, designed to replace it, would have looked like. Image: RCollins Architects. - Credit: Archant

Councillors turn down an application to build an S-shaped cottage at All Saints, near Axminster

Councillors have rejected plans for a 'Grand Designs' style new home in the countryside near Axminster, saying it was not 'truly exceptional nor innovative'.

Mr and Mrs Raggio had hoped to build an S-shaped three-bedroom cottage that would have been the first house in the UK to have integrated of straw bales into a cob construction.

Officers agreed that the proposed design was of a high quality, but they were not convinced that the use of traditional materials in the manner proposed is truly outstanding or innovative, and recommended the scheme be refused.

The proposal for land east of Goldsmith Lane in All Saints, a small village outside of Axminster, would have seen a derelict former cottage demolished and replaced.

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But East Devon District Council's development management committee on Tuesday rejected the scheme by 11 votes to two.

Rachel Collins, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said that the use of cob and straw bales is truly innovative for the UK. She added it would see the use of renewable technologies paired with traditional construction methods, and would even surpass zero carbon by giving energy back.

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Chris Rose, the council's development manager, said that due to its isolated location in the countryside, the proposed dwelling conflicted with the development plan, but the National Planning Policy Framework identifies circumstances to permit dwellings in such isolated positions, subject to certain criteria, including where the design is truly exceptional and where the development would significantly enhance its immediate setting.

He added: "It should be noted that the design has the support of the Design Review Panel that the applicant took the proposal too prior to submission of the application.

"Nevertheless, officers have doubts on how the form of the building originated from and references its context. Searches on the internet demonstrate that combining cob and bale in construction is neither truly exceptional nor innovative.

"Officers struggle therefore to see how the concepts now proposed result in an evolution of cob buildings to meet the ever rising bar of exceptional quality and do not believe that the proposal will significantly enhance its setting and be sensitive to the local area given is location, prominence and relationship to the landform."

Cllr Paul Hayward, who represents the Yarty ward, said that as a concept design it was to be applauded, but that one person's Grand Design is another's monstrosity!'

He added: "The proposed dwelling will be nearly the size of our parish church and, on this basis alone - given that the parish is designated as 'unsustainable' and that the land sits adjacent to the designated Blackdown Hills AONB - I do not agree that consent should be granted. I don't think the design is not truly innovative in the truest sense of the word, and so it is not truly innovative and therefore I propose refusal."

Cllr David Key added that he didn't think the proposal was in keeping with the surrounding area, and Cllr Jack Rowland added: "I love the design, but it is not right for this particular site. It would be great to see it somewhere in the area, but not here."

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