Government official will have final say on North Berwick 'Grand Designs' home plan

A bid to build a three-storey house dubbed a “Grand Design experiment” by a local council is being taken to Scottish Ministers.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 4:45 pm
The site where Mr Sutherland wants to build his home
The site where Mr Sutherland wants to build his home

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Architect Robin Sutherland ‘s vision of a family home in North Berwick town centre proposed building on a site just over four metres wide and 29 metres long.

But his planning application for the High Street was refused by East Lothian Council’s planning committee by just one vote.

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The outline of the land on which architect Robin Sutherland planned to build his new home at the rear of 82 High Street, North Berwick.

Mr Sutherland came up with the Passivhaus build for his family after they bought the property and turned the front into a refurbished new shop with offices for the architect upstairs.

But while his design was described by one councillor as “extraordinary”, his vision for his new home clashed with neighbours, the community council and ward councillors, who claimed it went against the area’s conservation status.

And despite planning officers ruling that the proposed house met its policies, the planning committee refused planning permission by six votes to five.

Mr Sutherland’s proposed home would have had room widths of 3.5 metres.

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Councillor Jane Henderson, ward member, told the committee that the width of the home would be “not much wider than a shipping container, my goodness gracious”.

She said: “I am not convinced this is the best place for a Grand Designs experiment”, adding: “Just because theoretically it can be done does not make it right.”

Grand Designs is a popular and long-running home improvements TV show where unique and daringly designed homes are built.

In an appeal to Scottish Ministers to overturn the council decision, agents for Mr Sutherland argue that the character of the town’s conservation area is “variety”.

They pointed out: “An imposing four storey social housing block of flats from the 2000s is the closest building to the east, beyond an adjacent service yard.

“A four-storey social housing block of flats dating from the 1960s is a near neighbour to the west.

“A wide range of materials and finishes are evident in the immediate vicinity of the application site.

“There is no single dominant material finish or character, and this part of the Conservation Area is of mixed quality.”

Neighbours overlooking the proposed house had objections about the impact of the three-storey home on their privacy, in particular a proposed roof terrace. And they raised concerns about the use of zinc cladding on the walls and roof.

In the appeal the agents invite the Reporter to impose a condition calling for a different material to be used if he rules the zinc is out of character.

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