We were appointed by our client to deliver a high density, flatted residential housing scheme contain 1, 2 and 3 bed flats from RIBA Stage 1 to submitting and obtaining planning permission (RIBA Stage 3).
The planning approved scheme consisted of 56no. of one, two and three bedroom flats, together with underground and above ground parking, green roofed cycle storage, private and communal amenity areas. All residential units are designed to Lifetime Homes Standards.
It is also worth noting that the council policy for the site was 40-70 dwellings per hectare; our successful full planning consent yielded 347 dwellings per hectare.
The site is located in Reading on the busy Kings Road, with an area of 0.16ha. The existing site comprised a low rise 1980’s office building with basement parking, which is surrounded by flatted residential and commercial developments of various scales.
Prior to progressing the new build scheme, we evaluated during Stage 1 if the existing site could be reused and converted into residential units; however, the viability of this approach was uneconomical.
Overcoming the constraints of the neighbouring buildings required extensive site analysis including close collaboration with the right for light and daylight / sunlight consultants.
We produced a 3D massing model in Revit, which outlined the allowable building envelope to maximise the units on the site. This also enabled us to co-ordinate the structure and services with the other consultants more efficiently, which resulted in a well-developed building at planning stage. Early 3D modelling allows the whole building to be carefully reviewed and interrogated, reducing risks in the later stages of the project.
Due to the close proximity of other residential developments our client engaged a PR company who managed local public relations. We produced images and visuals for use in a newsletter to highlight the quality of the design, which were circulated prior to an open exhibition at a local community centre. All the key design team members attended to answer questions and discuss the design with members of the public and local politicians. Responses were reviewed and any issues were addressed in the design prior to the submission of the application.
Our experience at public engagement prior to submitting planning applications is important for promoting new build schemes. Car parking, increased numbers of vehicles on local roads, density, overlooking and privacy are key concerns local residents raise.
Throughout RIBA Stages 2 & 3 we had regular meetings with the Planning Officers, to ensure that all the potential policy risks had been addressed. In the committee meeting, this strategy paid off, as the Case Officer was able to answer any concerns or questions raised, and allay any fears or concerns. The project received a unanimous approval.
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