House Extension In Limehouse
The clients, Rupert and Amanda, have two boys and a busy home life. Rupert is an entrepreneur and Amanda is a mum and they are involved in the leadership of their local Anglican church. Their home has to fulfil many functions, from home office and boisterous family home, to a place of hospitality and entertainment for friends and community events.
Rupert and Amanda had adventurously bought, through auction, a building which was a remnant of East London’s war blitz in that it had not been bombed. This building which had previously been converted to their home was known locally as the ‘house that got left behind’. Poised at the end of a run of rebuilt terraced buildings, this building was bounded on its gable end by the local park created after the war.
Rupert was a solicitor inclined towards entrepreneurial schemes and decided after a while that the building and his family would benefit from a serious extension of the property to the rear, upwards for a penthouse and below for a basement. Rupert and Amanda’s two boys were full of energy with lots of schools friends who attended the local primary school and who dropped in after playing at the adjacent local park.
Not only would the proposed building project give the family a more liveable and spacious home in the heart of London. A planning consent along these lines would add significant value to the property and thus the family finances in time, being only a short walk to the heart of London’s second financial district, Canary Wharf.
The house was generous with space at ground floor level due to its public house origins and long span beams. However the floors above being a relatively typical London terraced house were rather more restricted with a staircase that meandered through the house from top to bottom which made for inefficient space allocation for the existing bedrooms and bathrooms.
A number of challenges would face any redevelopment of the property and would impact on the kind of planning permission that would ultimately be possible. These included:
- Dealing with the sensitive neighbours who were protective of their modern terraced properties to one side of the building
- The close proximity to the local park which had non-overlooked corners that attracted rowdy behaviour from the local boys from time to time
- The fact that being close to the River Thames, the property was in a flood zone requiring the advice of the Environment Agency
- Although not actually in a conservation area, the building overlooked one on the opposite side of the street and would attract the attention of the Local Council’s conservation officer.
With the multiple challenges characteristic of much of central London’s properties and their complex historic, social and environmental layering, the process was an extremely iterative one that took time. The client was keen to explore the options that might eventually inform the final design and maximised the opportunities of the location.
Throughout, the process the big idea was to gain larger and more efficient spaces throughout the house with the added benefit of a penthouse like top floor with an open terrace to gain views over the historic neighbourhood and towards the lights of Canary Wharf, whilst not causing overlooking of the immediate neighbours roof terraces.
Our expertise in steering the project through the planning process helped with the drafting of the DAS (Design and Access Statement) with input from the client and his intimate knowledge of the area. This document was crucial in setting out the argument for the additional floor level and the extensive 4 story addition to the rear of the property. The drawings that formed the planning application included a number of cross sections through the building. These illustrated the site lines that would be established by the proposed levels for the external roof terraced areas with their associated boundary walls and parapets, both at high level and to the rear.
By arguing for improved natural surveillance over the adjacent local park, we were able to achieve 4 new windows in the long gable wall, thus opening interior spaces to views and additional natural light that previously did not exist.