Now’s the time to be thinking about summer 2015!

Now’s the time to be thinking about summer 2015!

Don’t let the shorter, darker days get you down! If major home improvements are on your agenda, now is the best time of the year to start planning. The main reason is simple – most home extension projects take at around six months from ‘concept’ to work on site actually starting. Which means if you start planning now, work should be able to commence in Spring 2015. Of course it will vary depending on how complex your development is, and whether it will need planning permission. But some of our recent extensions and garden room projects have fallen within permitted development rules, and so by avoiding planning permission you can start work more...
Design statements help A55 project gain planning permission

Design statements help A55 project gain planning permission

The Little Chef near the A55’s Puffin roundabout at Penmaenmawr closed in January 2007, and has been an eyesore since. With architectural design input from Matthew Jones, the site is to be redeveloped into a cafe, farm shop and tourism information centre. We helped the developers gain change-of-use planning permission with designs and a Design and Access Statement, which the Welsh Government requires for such planning applications. Our understanding of local and national planning policies and guidelines meant we could create a suitable remodelled design. In this case, we gave the building a modern facelift – making use of the existing building with alterations mainly to improve accessibility (wider doors, disabled toilets and so on). However, our Design and Access Statement presented a thorough, structured argument in favour of planning approval that helped get the scheme through. In it, we cover social and economic benefits and impact, environmental sustainability, and relevance to current development plans as well as planning history. Using a Chartered Architect means we arm you with not just the plans, but a compelling argument to get the changes through the planning minefield. If you have plans, don’t rely on the local planning authority alone for advice. Call us. We’ll discuss your ideas without charge, and right away give you an indication as to what (if any) planning requirements there may be....
Permitted Development rules relaxed – can you develop without planning?

Permitted Development rules relaxed – can you develop without planning?

Did you know you can extend your house without needing planning permission? We’re not just talking about conservatories, but extensions that effectively increase the size of your home? There are lots of caveats (of course!) but as experts in the planning system, architects can ensure your home extension is designed in such a way that it can go ahead without delay. Planning isn’t always necessary – but you need the right advice! You’ve probably heard that the planning system is a minefield. If you haven’t had any experience of it, believe them and believe us – it’s so true! Not helping matters in recent years is the difference between Welsh and English systems. What applies in Wales may not over the border, and vice versa. If you’re looking to add a fully-fledged extension to your home (not a conservatory), a common assumption is that you need planning permission. This time, that’s not true! Permitted Development could be your friend A set of rules under the umbrella of Permitted Development gives you scope to build extensions provided they meet a list of criteria. That criteria has recently been relaxed. In fact, Permitted Development is one area of planning that changes frequently. For instance, in England rules have been relaxed to allow redundant farm buildings that can’t be run as viable businesses to be used for residential purposes instead, without requiring ‘Change of Use’ planning consent (this isn’t the case in Wales yet, but watch this space). For homeowners, you can add extensions to your home that extend outwards by up to four metres (or 13ft in old money) from the...
10 years in practice – a lot’s happened, and a lot more is on its way…

10 years in practice – a lot’s happened, and a lot more is on its way…

Matthew Jones, the Practice Director, has now been in business for is 10 years this year! Our business has made a great name for itself in North Wales and North West England building on its reputation going back over 30 years. It’s been a privilege to work on many projects, including commercial designs as well as home remodels and new-builds. It would be wrong not to say a huge thank you to all our consultants and clients who have worked with us throughout the years, through good times and bad! Yes, it’s fair to say a lot’s happened in those 10 years – and we expect a lot more to change in the next 10. So here we look back on 10 years of change, and gaze into our crystal ball to see what the next 10 year may bring… In the 10 years gone by… 1. The kitchen has become the hub of the home, the place not just for cooking but for eating, entertaining, family gatherings and even working from home on laptops – it’s become the family space! 2. Consequently, many homes have fewer downstairs rooms as the kitchen has become a larger, multi-purpose open-plan area – the separate dining room is a thing of the past 3. There’s been a move to home cinema or games/playrooms, with large flatscreen TVs often demanding a room of their own! (Dad’s hideaway!) 4. Eco-friendly design involving renewable energy has made great strides into property design, especially through roof solar panelling and better insulation standards 5. Owners have become more open-minded about construction materials and appearance, in part thanks...
Turning disused chapels into modern homes

Turning disused chapels into modern homes

We frequently work on buildings in conservation areas or more sensitive Listed buildings. Key to obtaining planning permission is sympathetic restoration so that any development is within keeping of the local surroundings. This was true of Bethania Chapel in Llandudno, a Victorian church no longer in use. Although not a Listed building itself, Bethania Chapel is in a conservation area and surrounded by Victorian properties. So it was important to preserve the external appearance especially. The only changes to the outside of the building are the addition of rooflights to allow more natural light into the structure and a redecoration facelift! The property was in good condition, so no substantial alterations were needed. The design retains the open double height space and so the feeling of living in an old church is maintained. Inside, we added a new second floor with a living area deck that overlooks the space below, two bedrooms, and two staircases (one of which is secret…). Roof trusses and other architectural features were retained. In fact, these are intrinsic to the design – adding great character to the home. The owners can now enjoy a desirable home in a favourable location – with views to the Great Orme as well. In essence, Bethania Chapel is the perfect example of how we work with clients to rejuvenate redundant...