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Plans approved for house described as an ‘enormous shoebox’ to be built in Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

18 May 2024 4 minute read
An image of a new house in Penmaen, Gower, which Swansea Council’s planning committee has approved. Photo Glen Thomas Architecture

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

An eye-catching house described as “architecturally innovative” but also “an enormous shoebox” will be built in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty after being unanimously approved by councillors.

A council officer told Swansea’s planning committee that he and his colleagues were satisfied with the design and size of the building in Penmaen within the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

He said the existing cottage on the plot in question had been extended several times and had lost its character and charm, and that the planning department didn’t think the replacement would have an adverse impact on neighbouring properties.

Footprint

He said the footprint of the proposed new house was smaller than the cottage’s, and that while its “overall mass and height is clearly bigger” it “sits quite comfortably in the plot” and had been moved further from its closest neighbour.

There were eight objection letters to the initial and amended application, plus a petition signed by 40 people. The Gower Society also objected. Speaking at the meeting, objector David Patton said the vast majority of the existing cottage was single-storey when viewed from the adjacent A4118 in contrast to the planned new one.

Mr Patton said replacement homes in Gower should not, according to supplementary planning guidance, be “boxy” or have a more significant impact than their predecessors.

Shoebox

He said: “From the road this (replacement house) just looks like an enormous dark brown or black shoebox.” It would, he said, “grossly affect” the landscape.

Mr Patton said it would be another “so-called contemporary” home in the area, some of which “looked more suitable to be in Johannesburg with their large imposing iron gates and high walls”.

He added that people were also concerned that construction work could damage two Cypress trees and that the new house, if given the go-ahead, could become an Airbnb rental property.

Glen Thomas, director of Glen Thomas Architecture, said applicants Edward and Rebecca Hayward wanted to move to Gower, where Mrs Hayward was from, and were attracted to the “beautiful plot and wonderful views”. It wasn’t clear to them at the start, he said, whether upgrading the existing cottage or a replacement property was the best way forward.

Mr Thomas said they opted for the latter because the cottage was “in such a poor state of repair” and couldn’t meet the high environmental standards they sought.

Demolished cottage

He said much of the demolished cottage would be re-used for the new home’s substructure and that the house would include an air source heat pump, solar panels, high performance windows, living green walls and new surrounding greenery. Mr Thomas added that the flat roof would be around two-and-a-half metres lower than a traditional pitched roof.

“We have really tried to lower the visual impact and sink it into the site,” he said. The property would, he said, be “an architecturally innovative, highly sustainable family home”.

Ward councillor Lynda James said nobody objected to the demolition of the cottage – it would take a lot of work, she said, to bring it up to scratch. Cllr James said the issue was the design of the replacement and its two-storey appearance as viewed from the road.

She said there were similar contemporary properties in South Gower but that they were more set back and “not so in your face”. She also said an application from a nearby householder to merge their dormer roofs into one dormer roof had been turned down by the council on the grounds of its impact on the character and appearance of the area.

The planning officer then spoke, saying among other things that there was nothing to suggest that the house would be used as holiday rental property. The committee, which had visited the development site earlier in the week, then voted in favour of the recommendation of approval.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago

When the sun catches those windows it will be visible from the space station…

Mawkernewek
28 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

There seem to be no blinds or curtains according to the visualization. It seems rich people aren’t allowed them?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

These glass temples to the view…the inward view of Rich Folk parading around in their designer underwear…no net twitchers here, quite the opposite…fine for the Oregon Rockies but hardly Rhosneigr beach…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

‘Architecturally innovative’ by no stretch of the imagination…

hdavies15
hdavies15
28 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Oregon ? Then it’s more likely to be Cascades than Rockies, but I get your drift about strutting around in one’s choice undies without any blinds, nets or curtains inside the huge glazed elevations. I thought it looked more like the gross homes of self centred luvvies in the cliquey suburbs of L.A or elsewhere in Californicationland.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
27 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

‘poetic licence’, but you are correct…

The wood frame glass walls style is becoming ubiquitous my three examples are Rhos, Bontddu and Oregon and the same person could have built them…Good to know you are paying attention at the back there…Bore da

Last edited 27 days ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
27 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Californicationland ! priceless…

hdavies15
hdavies15
27 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Not mine ! Goes back nearly 50 years or so when one of the saner luvvies in USA was mourning the slow drift of west coast wanchors and their values into Colorado. I guess that certain places in the centennial state have been well and truly spoilt by now like those ski resorts. Just they have more room to foul up than we have.

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