One of Shropshire’s leading boutique architects has successfully secured planning approval for a designer Paragraph 79 house.
Johnson Design Partnership, which has seen interest in its services almost double during Covid-19, has been working on designs for a stunning two-bedroom property on pastureland alongside a watercourse in Shropshire for more than 12 months.
Due to the location, the home had to meet stringent criteria that included being of exceptional quality, truly outstanding or innovative and reflecting the highest standards in architecture. It also has to help raise standards of design more generally in rural areas.
All of these stipulations have been met by JDP, with the home taking inspiration from the agricultural nature of the local area and factoring in a number of landscape improvements that will enhance the biodiversity of the site.
Rheabridge is formed from a series of independent blocks elevated on a boardwalk to make a feature of the brook, with striking staircases, tiered viewing areas and a deck area to make the homeowners feel at one with nature.
“There are less than 50 Paragraph 79 developments currently approved in the UK, so this is a major achievement for our practice,” said Vic Johnson, founder of Johnson Design Partnership and the man behind the ambitious project to refurbish Grade 1 listed Bishop Percy’s House in Bridgnorth.
“The design itself is a mixture of poetry and science, maintaining a light touch that respects its own environment and that of Shropshire. We’re using lots of innovative features, such as photovoltaics on the garage roof, bronze cladding, cedar roof and extensive use of Glulam Timber, with heating for the property being driven by a heat pump that uses water from the brook.
“Design and materials are just two parts of the process. There are so many different environment/ecological factors to consider that the key to success is bringing in the right experts to work with you on the planning and ensuring you are continually talking to planners and the likes of Design Midlands.”
Getting the ecology right at Rheabridge was key to securing Paragraph 79 and JDP addressed this by working closely with Plan Design Landscape Architects to design a landscape that would deliver improvements to the hydrology of the site, reestablish priority habitats and ensure people and wildlife could thrive alongside each other.
The cornerstone of the approach was to introduce plans to improve the water quality of the brook by using land remodelling to capture surface water run-off from surrounding fields and the nearby access road.
Wider site improvements align with the aims of the local Biodiversity Action Plan and target specific priority habitats, such as new wetland meadow planting, reedbeds, natural ponds, brook bank stabilisation and orchards of local provenance fruit trees.
The design of the immediate house environs sought to capture the intrinsic beauty of the brook while re-introducing native flora and fauna previously lost due to a lack of management of the existing trees along the water’s edge and nearby agricultural practices.
Vic added: “I’m very proud of the design we have created. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment review panel rated the design very highly and obviously the Shropshire planners agree with their positive recommendation for approval.
“There are not many architects that have a Paragraph 79 approval to their name and we look forward to bringing the client’s vision to life, creating a stunning and unique home for them to live in while enjoying their natural surroundings.”