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Green Deal slow beginnings?

Category: News September 20th, 2013 by mbc

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start…

As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline.

71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such as solar panels and insulation at the end of August … But only 677 households have gone to the next stage and said they would like to proceed with the scheme. Of these, 12 houses have had measures installed, while 293 properties had quotes accepted on work and 372 properties had installations “pending”.

It was always easy to predict that it may well have been so.

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The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Category: News April 17th, 2013 by mbc

Worrying times in the world of property with a seemingly constant flow of bad new, good news, contradiction and spin. I thought I might try to track it with my property roller-coaster.

First we’re on a downward loop as we learn that the proposed planning reform, to allow homeowners to extend by as much as 26ft is now to be rethought. Eric Pickles had to compromise in the vaguest terms to prevent a defeat and ensure that the house disagreed with a Lords amendment giving power to local authorities to opt out of the reforms. Now it’s back to the Lords to debate further.

Read more in the Telegraph >> Government planning reforms in disarray after backbench rebellion

Good job I never started on those plans for my single story, palatial, garden room…

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Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

Category: News December 14th, 2012 by mbc

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example…

It’s reported today that the governments current favoured gas powered path to the future will actually cost us more than greener alternatives. According to the Guardian reporting today on findings of the Committee on Climate Change (one of the governments own advisory bodies) “Household energy bills will be about £600 higher per year in the coming decades if the UK relies increasingly on gas“. This in comparison to “bills would only be £100 higher than today’s average dual fuel bill of about £1,300, if the country concentrated on renewable power generation, such as wind power.“. Hhmmmm, something doesn’t add up.

What makes us think that gas can sustain us into the future? Well that brings us to fracking. Fracking is currently an emotive subject, with a recent governmental green light to allow further exploration following a couple of earth-quakes caused by its exploratory application in the north of England, what exactly does it mean? Well it relates to the technique of liberating flammable gases from inshore rock using water pumped under high pressure. The Department for the Environment and Climate Change website has some interesting further reading for the interested. In short, we’re not sure how much gas fracking may yield, so to base an energy policy on it is somewhat hopeful.

Seems to me energy self-sufficiency is the only path we have to any kind of individual certainty.

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Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

Category: News November 16th, 2012 by mbc

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on green belt protection through the new Economic Development Bill. My scepticism spews forth driven from several sources including, Nick Boles MP recent comments that the green belt is only safe “for now“, the forth-coming aforementioned Bill that reportedly will look to sacrifice the green belt at the altar of the construction industry and Eric Pickles commitment to protect the green belt “the green belt plays a vital role in stopping urban sprawl and we will protect it“. I can’t help but read that like the board of a football club backing the current manager, there’s usually a stab in the back behind the fine words of reassurance.

This caused me to think again about one of the documentary foundations of all this change and threat, the National Planning Policy Framework.

Burrowing through it again, I found this intriguing section that I wanted to share (apologies for the hacked about editing):

7. Requiring good design
56. The Government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making places better for people.

Planning policies and decisions should aim to ensure that developments:
> will function well and add to the overall quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development;

> respond to local character and history, and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials, while not preventing or discouraging appropriate innovation;

59. Local planning authorities should consider using design codes where they could help deliver high quality outcomes. However, design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout, materials and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.

60. Planning policies and decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness.

61. Although visual appearance and the architecture of individual buildings are very important factors, securing high quality and inclusive design goes beyond aesthetic considerations. Therefore, planning policies and decisions should address the connections between people and places and the integration of new development into the natural, built and historic environment.

63. In determining applications, great weight should be given to outstanding or innovative designs which help raise the standard of design more generally in the area.

64. Permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.

65. Local planning authorities should not refuse planning permission for buildings or infrastructure which promote high levels of sustainability because of concerns about incompatibility with an existing townscape, if those concerns have been mitigated by good design (unless the concern relates to a designated heritage asset and the impact would cause material harm to the asset or its setting which is not outweighed by the proposal’s economic, social and environmental benefits).

66. Applicants will be expected to work closely with those directly affected by their proposals to evolve designs that take account of the views of the community. Proposals that can demonstrate this in developing the design of the new development should be looked on more favourably.

National Planning Policy Framework page 14

Quite simply, who decides what is good design? That statement seems to try and cover all the bases and fails to cover any of them: have design policies but don’t enforce them, let ‘good’ design over-rule all else, let everyone decide…

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Green Deal Launch

Category: News October 4th, 2012 by mbc

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week.

Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … Not as far as I saw, instead a more ‘low key’ launch.

Apparently, environment minister Greg Baker wasn’t even in the country, instead he’s been off on a jolly in Tanzania. Only British Gas and the Mark Group are ready to provide solutions and no finance is available under the scheme until January 28th 2013. But it’s OK, surveys can be booked now!

So the softest of soft launches, but it’s alright, it’s not like this is about anything important….

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Progress

Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)… With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need […]

I’m having a moan on twitter… https://twitter.com/barnconversion/status/368427314868396032

A lovely Flemish barn conversion

I love the interior of this conversion and the great use of horizontal slats on this conversion. I retains the essential ‘barnyness’ of the building… flemish-barn-by-arend-groenewegen-architect

Coming soon, my barn conversion guide… Interesting earthship greenhouse project on Kickstarter

I really like this Kickstarter project >> The Farm of the Future: Earthship-Inspired Greenhouse This project is “Prototyping the First 100% Off-The-Grid, Affordable, Low-Maintenance Greenhouse using Earthship Principles and Aquaponics“. If any of those words meaning anything to you you’ll be interested in the project if not, pass it by… It’s already funded so I […]

Barns

Barns Gallery on Remodelista

There is a lovely gallery of barn related inspirational photographs available on Remodelista.

Barns – the Long House

Situated on the North Norfolk coast, this is a building to admire…

Barns – the Balancing Barn

A stunning piece of architecture, although not entirely to my taste…

New fast-track planning permission for the development of barns proposed

The Daily Mail reports on a new fast-track route through planning controls for the conversion of barns…

De-assembled, re-assembled, re-cycled barns

“A bit like a private sector, modernising, repurposing St Fagan’s…”

Design

What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Architecture

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

The 2012 Stirling prize was won by a outsider, the Sainsbury Laboratory…

The Stirling prize 2012

I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist…

Our engineers … our architects – Le Corbusier

The efficient, shiny world of construction in 1923…

Design in Storage

When designing a layout it’s easy to forget to plan for storage…

News

Green Deal slow beginnings?

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start… As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline. 71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such […]

The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Eric Pickles vague compromise on planning reform keeps the house happy (for now).

Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example… It’s reported today that the […]

Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on the green belt…

Green Deal Launch

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week. Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … read more …

Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

The leader of Plaid Cymru has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

I wanted to share an interview with Lloyd Khan that I recently found…

Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Sustainable development – with the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quote from Sir Patrick Abercrombie…