Slight Tweaking of the Plans (Part 14)

Martin & Mandy

The plan for the garage existed in the first place because the Council planning brief required car parking space 2.43 places I recall, which is the average number of cars owned by the average household using the average number of bedrooms in an average house. Well once I’m done I’ll get my average chainsaw out and cut my average car up to get me the 0.43 of a car to park in the garage!

Anyway accepting the requirement for a garage, we need to turn it to our advantage, the thing needs to Published Versioncosmetically fit in so the obvious choice is a Hertfordshire style farm building built from flint knap and red brick. If you travel along the A120 you can see a couple of them hiding in the farmland. This is the general target for what the finished building should look like. It does provide problems in terms of picking the right bricks and ensuring the flint work looks correct, but we think this is worth the effort.

A conversation with my structural engineer leads me to believe that we can get away with reducing the size of the foundations almost down to pads of re-enforced concrete if we are careful. This has two brilliant side effects. Firstly it means that we need to dig greatly reduced holes in the ground, and this means that we disturb the tree roots less. Apparently what normally happens is that developers dig deep foundations and build their buildings - this cuts through tree roots and two years later the developers are gone, then the trees start to die around the people who are living there, and this is certainly something we don’t want to happen as we are the developer but also the end resident! A side effect is that the installed residents of the graveyard also get to be disturbed less, which has to be good and certainly appeals to the Council Archaeologist.

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In the original planning submission there was much discussion about the height of the building so that it did not impose on the site, (ignoring the corrugated farm building that already exists) and about the position of the building. The bat survey that we had done in 2008 identified a very small number of quite common bats in the area, but if we are going to build a garage we might as well make it as bat friendly as possible, Published Versionand this comes down the the roof space. Obviously we need to allow the little chaps access to the space which is no problem; carefully placed holes in the gables achieve this. Then the framework in the roof needs to be minimal so they can fly around. Now this I did not understand, how come a bat can fly around a wood without crashing into things but needs lots of free space inside a roost? I thought they were masters of Radar and all that! Well it comes to pass that bats don’t simply take off as such when they are bored with hanging upside down - they basically throw themselves off the roost and gravity takes a bit of control over the game. As such quite a bit of free space around the roost is required and here’s our problem, in the original discussions we reduced the height of the roof to make the building attempt to disappear and this made the height too low to keep bats happy, problem is the plans got approved and one of the conditions of the planning consent was completing the bat mitigation suggestions which required a slightly higher roof - can you see the circle? The solution is to raise the roof height to the minimum limit required by Natural England to get the bat mitigation program past everybody, and to end up with a happy bunch of bats.

And finally, last month while Phil, Malcolm and I were standing on site plotting how not to cut trees down we worked out that the actual reality of getting a vehicle into the garage was going to be hampered by one of the newest Lime trees on the left of the avenue - especially as it grew larger. In the submission the garage has two car parking spaces to the North of the design and then some storage to the southern end by the entrance, that’s the 0.43 of a car required by the council! Published Version

So, if we swap the parking with the storage in the inside of the garage, and we rotate the garage anti-clockwise by 15 degrees, then access tothe garage works and what’s more the Lime tree does not get in the way anymore. We also have a pair of gravestones to the rear of the garage location that we want to keep in place and this solution works for them as well. Lastly we’re not totally sure about this, but we believe the newer Limes were all planted by a gent after his wife passed away, so we’re doubly keen to find a solution that keeps all the trees in the avenue, but I think you all know that anyway by now.

So to summarize, slightly higher roof to keep the bats happy, rotate it by 15% to make the access work without cutting trees down, and reduce the foundations to keep the trees and the incumbent residents happy. Revisions to the plans in the post to the council.