• 03 Sep 2017
    When you consider the global population is set to increase by another 2 billion by 2050 and with 70% of the world’s population living in cities, there will an unprecedented demand for energy across the planet. The opportunity for architects and stakeholders to create buildings which reduce energy use has never been more apparent.  But can energy efficiency be achieved whilst still maintaining architectural intent? One of the key challenges for architects is working in any way that is inclusive to others so that energy performance can be achieved. Once this challenge is overcome, it’s possible to look at what needs to be achieved in terms of design and energy performance, and then endeavour to make it happen.  The environmental integrity of any building, both in terms of design and operation, must be a key consideration in the design of new buildings and the renovation of existing ones. More and more architects and designers are realising that if you design to be energy efficient it improves quality of life and minimises the harmful impacts on our health.  At the same time, clients are reaping the benefits of more environmentally responsible buildings through future-proofing, reduced operating costs, and comfort and health benefits. Sustainability and environmental objectives can be made a priority in every building design and as such, the thermal performance of the building envelope can make a significant contribution to reducing the overall building energy usage.  The use of renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal and solar along with the orientation of a building to take full advantage of seasonal changes in the sun’s position are all important steps that can be taken to design for energy efficiency. Indoor environmental quality and how occupants feel in a space is also intrinsic to how an architect strikes a balance between design and sustainability. A healthy indoor environment can be achieved through adequate ventilation, temperature control and the use of low VOC materials. So what is holding back some architects and building owners? Some remain sceptical about climate change while others are not familiar with the new tools and processes that have emerged in recent years to support energy-efficient design. Others might say it costs too much.  Yet evidence increasingly shows that higher performance need not mean higher costs.  It’s possible to integrate environmentally- conscious features and also make fundamental decisions regarding sustainability early in the design process which saves time and money in the long term. Some of the biggest successes in history have come about because of a problem and someone saying let’s work with someone else to try and resolve this problem. From the industrial revolution to the lightbulb to the moon landing, all have come about because of a problem and how we overcame it.  No one person has done it on their own; it’s been a collaboration.  When we collaborate, we achieve things that are far better than when we don’t collaborate. By Darren Evans, Managing Director, Darren Evans Assessments Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/
    159 Posted by Talk. Build
  • When you consider the global population is set to increase by another 2 billion by 2050 and with 70% of the world’s population living in cities, there will an unprecedented demand for energy across the planet. The opportunity for architects and stakeholders to create buildings which reduce energy use has never been more apparent.  But can energy efficiency be achieved whilst still maintaining architectural intent? One of the key challenges for architects is working in any way that is inclusive to others so that energy performance can be achieved. Once this challenge is overcome, it’s possible to look at what needs to be achieved in terms of design and energy performance, and then endeavour to make it happen.  The environmental integrity of any building, both in terms of design and operation, must be a key consideration in the design of new buildings and the renovation of existing ones. More and more architects and designers are realising that if you design to be energy efficient it improves quality of life and minimises the harmful impacts on our health.  At the same time, clients are reaping the benefits of more environmentally responsible buildings through future-proofing, reduced operating costs, and comfort and health benefits. Sustainability and environmental objectives can be made a priority in every building design and as such, the thermal performance of the building envelope can make a significant contribution to reducing the overall building energy usage.  The use of renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal and solar along with the orientation of a building to take full advantage of seasonal changes in the sun’s position are all important steps that can be taken to design for energy efficiency. Indoor environmental quality and how occupants feel in a space is also intrinsic to how an architect strikes a balance between design and sustainability. A healthy indoor environment can be achieved through adequate ventilation, temperature control and the use of low VOC materials. So what is holding back some architects and building owners? Some remain sceptical about climate change while others are not familiar with the new tools and processes that have emerged in recent years to support energy-efficient design. Others might say it costs too much.  Yet evidence increasingly shows that higher performance need not mean higher costs.  It’s possible to integrate environmentally- conscious features and also make fundamental decisions regarding sustainability early in the design process which saves time and money in the long term. Some of the biggest successes in history have come about because of a problem and someone saying let’s work with someone else to try and resolve this problem. From the industrial revolution to the lightbulb to the moon landing, all have come about because of a problem and how we overcame it.  No one person has done it on their own; it’s been a collaboration.  When we collaborate, we achieve things that are far better than when we don’t collaborate. By Darren Evans, Managing Director, Darren Evans Assessments Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/
    Sep 03, 2017 159
  • 26 Jul 2017
    When it comes to maximising natural daylight in buildings, understandably perhaps, much attention is paid to the type of glass used in windows or the shades of finish applied to walls – but what about the colour of the flooring? In commercial properties especially, staff not only benefit from a smooth, reliable, hard-wearing surface, its colour can have a large bearing on creating an environment conducive to a happy, healthy, productive workspace. In a good light As industrial flooring specialists of many years’ experience, we have seen how lighter-coloured floors can help optimise natural light in buildings for the good of the company and environment. Daylight is an even more precious commodity for those working inside; therefore it’s particularly important this natural resource is fully-harnessed as its rewards are plentiful. Naturally-lit buildings increase the feel-good factor for occupants, and in commercial terms, a contented workforce is proven to be more productive. Lighter, brighter environments reduce instances of sick-building syndrome among staff, which leads to less absenteeism. Letting more daylight into offices and factories can also help reduce conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), an illness which is thought to occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight, particularly in winter.  As well as the health benefits, buildings with a predominance of natural lighting will use far less energy than those flooded with artificial illumination. Electricity used for lighting is considerably more expensive in terms of CO2 than gas used for heating, and as reducing carbon emissions is paramount to achieving Part L Building Regulation compliance, the importance of making full-use of natural energy cannot be overstated. Reflective glory  A recent refurbishment Zircon Flooring carried out at SFS Intec, a self-drilling screw manufacturer in Leeds, gives a perfect example of how a light-coloured floor can utilise available daylight. The 7,300m2 new surface of its plant comprised a low-viscosity resin: Sikafloor-161, and Sikafloor-263 SL, a multi-purpose binder. The top coat’s light-grey colour provided the ideal shade to best reflect the natural daylight and enhance the building’s overall brightness. Sika’s support was paramount to the successful specification of the aforementioned flooring system. The guidance and knowledge of its technical teams meant the selected products were absolutely appropriate for the floor’s required performance. As well as providing excellent thought leadership, Sika’s support teams remained available throughout the floor’s installation to ensure the process was completed successfully and to the highest quality.  Extolling the benefits of light-coloured flooring doesn’t guarantee clients will take the notion on board. Some will continue to insist on having black or dark flooring as it is felt shadier tones will mask dirt or markings, which is far from the case. Reds, greens, dark greys, blacks and browns are all no-no flooring colours if natural daylight reflection is the goal.  Sikafloor has any number of light-coloured finishes to maximise daylight in buildings. Each shade has a RAL number, ensuring it meets international colour standards. Scientific study has proved interior colours can have a major influence on our mood and sense of wellbeing. Therefore, taking a lighter approach to the shade of flooring we choose can give our working environment a lift in so many welcoming ways. By Stewart Draper, Managing Director at Zircon Flooring  
    149 Posted by Talk. Build
  • When it comes to maximising natural daylight in buildings, understandably perhaps, much attention is paid to the type of glass used in windows or the shades of finish applied to walls – but what about the colour of the flooring? In commercial properties especially, staff not only benefit from a smooth, reliable, hard-wearing surface, its colour can have a large bearing on creating an environment conducive to a happy, healthy, productive workspace. In a good light As industrial flooring specialists of many years’ experience, we have seen how lighter-coloured floors can help optimise natural light in buildings for the good of the company and environment. Daylight is an even more precious commodity for those working inside; therefore it’s particularly important this natural resource is fully-harnessed as its rewards are plentiful. Naturally-lit buildings increase the feel-good factor for occupants, and in commercial terms, a contented workforce is proven to be more productive. Lighter, brighter environments reduce instances of sick-building syndrome among staff, which leads to less absenteeism. Letting more daylight into offices and factories can also help reduce conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), an illness which is thought to occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight, particularly in winter.  As well as the health benefits, buildings with a predominance of natural lighting will use far less energy than those flooded with artificial illumination. Electricity used for lighting is considerably more expensive in terms of CO2 than gas used for heating, and as reducing carbon emissions is paramount to achieving Part L Building Regulation compliance, the importance of making full-use of natural energy cannot be overstated. Reflective glory  A recent refurbishment Zircon Flooring carried out at SFS Intec, a self-drilling screw manufacturer in Leeds, gives a perfect example of how a light-coloured floor can utilise available daylight. The 7,300m2 new surface of its plant comprised a low-viscosity resin: Sikafloor-161, and Sikafloor-263 SL, a multi-purpose binder. The top coat’s light-grey colour provided the ideal shade to best reflect the natural daylight and enhance the building’s overall brightness. Sika’s support was paramount to the successful specification of the aforementioned flooring system. The guidance and knowledge of its technical teams meant the selected products were absolutely appropriate for the floor’s required performance. As well as providing excellent thought leadership, Sika’s support teams remained available throughout the floor’s installation to ensure the process was completed successfully and to the highest quality.  Extolling the benefits of light-coloured flooring doesn’t guarantee clients will take the notion on board. Some will continue to insist on having black or dark flooring as it is felt shadier tones will mask dirt or markings, which is far from the case. Reds, greens, dark greys, blacks and browns are all no-no flooring colours if natural daylight reflection is the goal.  Sikafloor has any number of light-coloured finishes to maximise daylight in buildings. Each shade has a RAL number, ensuring it meets international colour standards. Scientific study has proved interior colours can have a major influence on our mood and sense of wellbeing. Therefore, taking a lighter approach to the shade of flooring we choose can give our working environment a lift in so many welcoming ways. By Stewart Draper, Managing Director at Zircon Flooring  
    Jul 26, 2017 149
  • 10 Jul 2017
    A house built using polyurethane materials consumes 85% less energy than a home built from conventional materials.  They can provide very high levels of insulation with minimal thickness which in turn allows architects and designers to maximise the use of interior spaces. It is perhaps no surprise then that when it came to the construction of a passive house in Belgium, polyurethane insulation materials were used to create a highly insulating building fabric. Three years on, has the Polyurethanes Passive House in Brussels and its very well insulated and sealed envelope provided a comfortable and healthy environment throughout the year? The end-of-terrace four-storey family house developed by ISOPA, the European trade body for diisocyanate and polyol producers, was completed in Evere near Brussels in 2013. It is now occupied and working as a low energy test bed, its running costs and energy use closely measured to show the savings possible for homeowners. While there are over 12,000 new build Passive House certified buildings across Europe,  the ISOPA house is unusual in using a high proportion of PU to achieve its highly insulating fabric first design which reduces the need for heating and saves around 80% of the energy used by a normal house.  PU insulation has been used wherever possible from wall cavities to the floor, and windows to the roof. The house has been designed so that all of the construction elements work together in an integrated way, from the solar panels on the roof to the geothermal heat pump and MVHR system which ensures that warm fresh air circulates internally despite the high air tightness levels. The University of Leuven has been evaluating the home’s overall performance, energy use and indoor comfort levels which would verify whether the PU products as installed were really achieving the calculated performance levels. The analysis of the data yielded an estimated heat loss coefficient of 60.0 W/K, with a standard deviation of 3.0 W/K. This indicates that the thermal performance of the building fabric meets the very high standards expected, which was instrumental to the project reaching the performance levels required for Passive House certification. Known for the comfort they provide, polyurethanes are ideal for Passive House construction because they provide very high levels of insulation thanks to low thermal conductivity, meaning they provide reduced thickness increasing their affordability and reducing the impact on building footprints. As well as requiring fewer adjustments to be made to the design of buildings and less aesthetic compromises such as with deep window reveals, further cost savings on depth of eaves, joists, rafters or studs, lengths of fixings can be achieved. In short, the extremely low U-values required for Passive House projects can be much more easily achieved with PU than with other materials as far fewer changes to design detailing are required. Rigid PIR insulation boards are also light but strong, moisture-resistant and easy to install, and they, as well as spray foam PUR insulation, retain their insulating properties for the life of the building.  Last but not least, PU materials contribute to preservation of natural resources by reducing the need for energy which assists their sustainability credentials in Passive House projects. With a daunting 80% reduction in carbon emissions on 1990 levels called for globally by 2050, such efforts to create practical ‘near zero energy’ houses are essential. With houses accounting for 40% of energy consumed across Europe, achieving the means of constructing new Passive Houses affordably using PU which can deliver the results while saving homeowners money is the realistic way forward, as demonstrated at the Polyurethanes Passive House. Marleen Baes, European Product and Certification Manager, IKO For more information about BRUFMA visit www.brufma.co.uk.
    314 Posted by Talk. Build
  • A house built using polyurethane materials consumes 85% less energy than a home built from conventional materials.  They can provide very high levels of insulation with minimal thickness which in turn allows architects and designers to maximise the use of interior spaces. It is perhaps no surprise then that when it came to the construction of a passive house in Belgium, polyurethane insulation materials were used to create a highly insulating building fabric. Three years on, has the Polyurethanes Passive House in Brussels and its very well insulated and sealed envelope provided a comfortable and healthy environment throughout the year? The end-of-terrace four-storey family house developed by ISOPA, the European trade body for diisocyanate and polyol producers, was completed in Evere near Brussels in 2013. It is now occupied and working as a low energy test bed, its running costs and energy use closely measured to show the savings possible for homeowners. While there are over 12,000 new build Passive House certified buildings across Europe,  the ISOPA house is unusual in using a high proportion of PU to achieve its highly insulating fabric first design which reduces the need for heating and saves around 80% of the energy used by a normal house.  PU insulation has been used wherever possible from wall cavities to the floor, and windows to the roof. The house has been designed so that all of the construction elements work together in an integrated way, from the solar panels on the roof to the geothermal heat pump and MVHR system which ensures that warm fresh air circulates internally despite the high air tightness levels. The University of Leuven has been evaluating the home’s overall performance, energy use and indoor comfort levels which would verify whether the PU products as installed were really achieving the calculated performance levels. The analysis of the data yielded an estimated heat loss coefficient of 60.0 W/K, with a standard deviation of 3.0 W/K. This indicates that the thermal performance of the building fabric meets the very high standards expected, which was instrumental to the project reaching the performance levels required for Passive House certification. Known for the comfort they provide, polyurethanes are ideal for Passive House construction because they provide very high levels of insulation thanks to low thermal conductivity, meaning they provide reduced thickness increasing their affordability and reducing the impact on building footprints. As well as requiring fewer adjustments to be made to the design of buildings and less aesthetic compromises such as with deep window reveals, further cost savings on depth of eaves, joists, rafters or studs, lengths of fixings can be achieved. In short, the extremely low U-values required for Passive House projects can be much more easily achieved with PU than with other materials as far fewer changes to design detailing are required. Rigid PIR insulation boards are also light but strong, moisture-resistant and easy to install, and they, as well as spray foam PUR insulation, retain their insulating properties for the life of the building.  Last but not least, PU materials contribute to preservation of natural resources by reducing the need for energy which assists their sustainability credentials in Passive House projects. With a daunting 80% reduction in carbon emissions on 1990 levels called for globally by 2050, such efforts to create practical ‘near zero energy’ houses are essential. With houses accounting for 40% of energy consumed across Europe, achieving the means of constructing new Passive Houses affordably using PU which can deliver the results while saving homeowners money is the realistic way forward, as demonstrated at the Polyurethanes Passive House. Marleen Baes, European Product and Certification Manager, IKO For more information about BRUFMA visit www.brufma.co.uk.
    Jul 10, 2017 314
  • 02 Sep 2016
    There’s a growing realisation in the construction industry that complex mechanical ventilation systems are a recipe for disaster for schools. As part of a recent report by the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA), 129 UK schools’ post-occupancy evaluations were analysed. It revealed a large number of technical ventilation devices were being disabled or abandoned having been deemed too burdensome for the school to manage. Problems included excessive electrical energy consumption, high base loads and lack of controllability, leading to overheating and discomfort.  Designers are taking a modern holistic approach to school building design to enhance energy efficiency and improve the learning environment whilst engineers are rapidly coming round to the idea that natural ventilation systems are a reliable, cost-effective option to the mechanical alternative. Until recently, natural ventilation systems were designed to do one of two things - reduce overheating and provide ventilation in warmer weather and recover heat when it turns colder. The Ventive C900, a simple, ingenious British-made system carries out both tasks without the aid of electricity and the incumbent equipment and cost. Richardson and Peat have first-hand experience of the passive ventilation, heat recovery system, having carried out the first installation of Ventive C900 at a UK school. In May 2015 we delivered a pioneering centre to help autistic children into mainstream education. The £1.2 million Cullum Centre at Salesian School in Chertsey, Surrey provides 20 places for autistic children and offers the structured support they need to access fully inclusive school placements. The building’s design needed to maximise energy efficiency which the Ventive C900 helped to achieve. The system consists of a roof cowl, eight of which were installed at the Cullum Centre, one per room. As well as being easy to install and negating the need for PV roof installation, the Ventive C900 is a simple and effective operator. In colder weather, warm air inside the building is driven through the Ventive C900 heat exchanger where it meets a supply of outside air which is naturally warmed on its way back to the classroom. In spring and summer months the roof cowl works like a small wind collector, ensuring rooms remain naturally ventilated at all times. Ventive C900 took two years to develop, and with UK schools spending £159m per year on heating according to RIBA, its general usage can’t come soon enough. On average, it is estimated Ventive C900 will reduce a school’s energy costs by £450 per year. An unsurprisingly huge saving when you consider the complications in managing mechanical ventilation systems which cause them to be left running overnight or during school holidays. Maintenance costs are another burden incurred by electrical systems. With the Ventive C900, only the filter needs regular changing. Its manufacturers say the Ventive C900 will be suitable for 50% of all schools built in the UK. For our children to succeed at school, the building itself needs to perform as well as the staff and students. A good reason, then, for architects and contractors alike to consider the benefits of Ventive C900. By Martin Peat, Director, Richardson & Peat For more information, visit: www.richardsonandpeat.com  
    126 Posted by Sue Purveur
  • There’s a growing realisation in the construction industry that complex mechanical ventilation systems are a recipe for disaster for schools. As part of a recent report by the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA), 129 UK schools’ post-occupancy evaluations were analysed. It revealed a large number of technical ventilation devices were being disabled or abandoned having been deemed too burdensome for the school to manage. Problems included excessive electrical energy consumption, high base loads and lack of controllability, leading to overheating and discomfort.  Designers are taking a modern holistic approach to school building design to enhance energy efficiency and improve the learning environment whilst engineers are rapidly coming round to the idea that natural ventilation systems are a reliable, cost-effective option to the mechanical alternative. Until recently, natural ventilation systems were designed to do one of two things - reduce overheating and provide ventilation in warmer weather and recover heat when it turns colder. The Ventive C900, a simple, ingenious British-made system carries out both tasks without the aid of electricity and the incumbent equipment and cost. Richardson and Peat have first-hand experience of the passive ventilation, heat recovery system, having carried out the first installation of Ventive C900 at a UK school. In May 2015 we delivered a pioneering centre to help autistic children into mainstream education. The £1.2 million Cullum Centre at Salesian School in Chertsey, Surrey provides 20 places for autistic children and offers the structured support they need to access fully inclusive school placements. The building’s design needed to maximise energy efficiency which the Ventive C900 helped to achieve. The system consists of a roof cowl, eight of which were installed at the Cullum Centre, one per room. As well as being easy to install and negating the need for PV roof installation, the Ventive C900 is a simple and effective operator. In colder weather, warm air inside the building is driven through the Ventive C900 heat exchanger where it meets a supply of outside air which is naturally warmed on its way back to the classroom. In spring and summer months the roof cowl works like a small wind collector, ensuring rooms remain naturally ventilated at all times. Ventive C900 took two years to develop, and with UK schools spending £159m per year on heating according to RIBA, its general usage can’t come soon enough. On average, it is estimated Ventive C900 will reduce a school’s energy costs by £450 per year. An unsurprisingly huge saving when you consider the complications in managing mechanical ventilation systems which cause them to be left running overnight or during school holidays. Maintenance costs are another burden incurred by electrical systems. With the Ventive C900, only the filter needs regular changing. Its manufacturers say the Ventive C900 will be suitable for 50% of all schools built in the UK. For our children to succeed at school, the building itself needs to perform as well as the staff and students. A good reason, then, for architects and contractors alike to consider the benefits of Ventive C900. By Martin Peat, Director, Richardson & Peat For more information, visit: www.richardsonandpeat.com  
    Sep 02, 2016 126
  • 02 Sep 2016
    Finding themselves priced out of rural areas where they grew up, younger residents are leaving to find housing they can afford. Thanks to new Permitted Development planning laws however disused farm buildings can be transformed into good quality homes for rent or sale, meaning families can stay in the area and an asset is brought back into use for farmers. A mismatch between housing supply and demand in rural areas is forcing many residents to move to cities to find good affordable housing for themselves and their families. A solution which could defuse this demographic time bomb, while also giving disused farm buildings a new lease of life, is being trialled by one company across several farms in Cambridgeshire. In April 2014 the Government confirmed that permitted development rights within the 2012 National Policy Framework would enable change of use of agricultural buildings to residential, flexible (i.e. commercial) or educational use. With many farmers having disused and dilapidated barns or other buildings on their land which are no longer fit for purpose and present a maintenance headache, the potential to turn them into desirable and practical rural family homes and generate income in the process is tempting. In reusing existing building assets the idea is environmentally sustainable as well as being economically sustainable as a new long-term revenue stream for farmers. As one example in Cambridgeshire, contractor Richardson & Peat has been commissioned by AgReserves Ltd which owns farmland across the county to put together a design team to convert under permitted development their semi-derelict barns into high quality homes for rent to local people. Permitted development rules The following rules form a basic guide to developing an agricultural building under permitted development rights:• Developments cannot be larger than 450m² and must fall within existing footprint.• The previous use must be solely agricultural. • The maximum number of separate dwellings on one site is three.• The building cannot be Listed. • No previous permitted developments can have been accepted or built on the same farm.• The site is not in a safety hazard area or site of scientific interest or of military use.• The site complies with any requirements if it falls within a flood zone. • The building will comply with current Building Regulations when constructed. To proceed with taking on this challenge a good architect is essential in understanding not only rural design and planning but also the needs of future occupants. It’s unlikely that an existing barn will be in a condition in order to meet new housing standards in Building Regulations so the adaption of the existing barn must provide a new thermal envelope as a key component to the construction alongside good natural light levels from windows and doors. Structural engineers can also be critical particularly if you are looking at older barns where substantial work is going to be needed to strengthen existing foundations and new and existing floors and walls. Above all the final design should provide a good practical living environment for a family. With this planning option available farm living gives local people wishing to stay in the area an opportunity that would otherwise not be available and it also opens up the possibility for people looking to move back to a rural surrounding from an urban environment. From a farmers prospective it’s crucial that the building is laid out thoughtfully to maximise its asset value as this is a once only application under permitted development rules. The Cambridgeshire project will widen the housing choices for local residents, but could provide a template for other farmers looking to take up the idea which would create a major impact across the UK. From a financial position farmers looking to develop are likely to be given a fair hearing from lenders given that the land is already a free asset and would bring an impressive return on any borrowing, meaning there is a realistic opportunity to turn thousands of obsolete rural buildings into badly-needed homes for future generations.
    226 Posted by Natasha Wills
  • Finding themselves priced out of rural areas where they grew up, younger residents are leaving to find housing they can afford. Thanks to new Permitted Development planning laws however disused farm buildings can be transformed into good quality homes for rent or sale, meaning families can stay in the area and an asset is brought back into use for farmers. A mismatch between housing supply and demand in rural areas is forcing many residents to move to cities to find good affordable housing for themselves and their families. A solution which could defuse this demographic time bomb, while also giving disused farm buildings a new lease of life, is being trialled by one company across several farms in Cambridgeshire. In April 2014 the Government confirmed that permitted development rights within the 2012 National Policy Framework would enable change of use of agricultural buildings to residential, flexible (i.e. commercial) or educational use. With many farmers having disused and dilapidated barns or other buildings on their land which are no longer fit for purpose and present a maintenance headache, the potential to turn them into desirable and practical rural family homes and generate income in the process is tempting. In reusing existing building assets the idea is environmentally sustainable as well as being economically sustainable as a new long-term revenue stream for farmers. As one example in Cambridgeshire, contractor Richardson & Peat has been commissioned by AgReserves Ltd which owns farmland across the county to put together a design team to convert under permitted development their semi-derelict barns into high quality homes for rent to local people. Permitted development rules The following rules form a basic guide to developing an agricultural building under permitted development rights:• Developments cannot be larger than 450m² and must fall within existing footprint.• The previous use must be solely agricultural. • The maximum number of separate dwellings on one site is three.• The building cannot be Listed. • No previous permitted developments can have been accepted or built on the same farm.• The site is not in a safety hazard area or site of scientific interest or of military use.• The site complies with any requirements if it falls within a flood zone. • The building will comply with current Building Regulations when constructed. To proceed with taking on this challenge a good architect is essential in understanding not only rural design and planning but also the needs of future occupants. It’s unlikely that an existing barn will be in a condition in order to meet new housing standards in Building Regulations so the adaption of the existing barn must provide a new thermal envelope as a key component to the construction alongside good natural light levels from windows and doors. Structural engineers can also be critical particularly if you are looking at older barns where substantial work is going to be needed to strengthen existing foundations and new and existing floors and walls. Above all the final design should provide a good practical living environment for a family. With this planning option available farm living gives local people wishing to stay in the area an opportunity that would otherwise not be available and it also opens up the possibility for people looking to move back to a rural surrounding from an urban environment. From a farmers prospective it’s crucial that the building is laid out thoughtfully to maximise its asset value as this is a once only application under permitted development rules. The Cambridgeshire project will widen the housing choices for local residents, but could provide a template for other farmers looking to take up the idea which would create a major impact across the UK. From a financial position farmers looking to develop are likely to be given a fair hearing from lenders given that the land is already a free asset and would bring an impressive return on any borrowing, meaning there is a realistic opportunity to turn thousands of obsolete rural buildings into badly-needed homes for future generations.
    Sep 02, 2016 226