Subterranean houses in the rural area are proposed not infrequently, their below ground design being a response to concern about their impact on the landscape. Whilst they can achieve a measure of success, their potential to increase car travel will often count against them. In a more unusual case in east London an appellant has gained planning permission, having applied the same design principle to concern about the character and appearance of the suburban area (DCS Number 400-016-586). In these circumstances, of course, there is no issue in relation to the sustainability credentials of the location.
The proposal entailed the redevelopment of four garages of concrete block construction with a partially subterranean two-bedroom house. The appeal inspector found that the garage block did not contribute positively to the character and appearance of the streetscene. He noted that the development would have a broadly similar height, width and depth above the existing ground level when compared to the existing garage block. He judged that it would represent an improvement on the current garage block without adding any significant visual massing or bulk to the streetscene, concluding that the innovative approach to the site would represent an acceptable design solution to its constraints.
Scruffy garage blocks – where the smart money’s going.
The following DCP section is relevant: 8.233