Designing timber garden rooms for listed properties

The planning application process is something that most homeowners dread, especially if they are extending a listed property or live in a conservation area or Area of National Beauty (AONB). But don’t let this put you off - with the right approach, you can still gain permission for a beautiful orangery or garden room.

Before the hard work begins, take time to enjoy the anticipation of starting a renovation project – it’s exciting to imagine how to make your mark and transform a property into your dream home. 

A glazed extension can generate more space in your home and entirely change the look of your property, so it’s highly likely that you’ll need planning permission. As you will know, if you live in a period property it may well be listed which can create some challenges for obtaining permission and satisfying certain conditions and restrictions. Owners of listed properties should not be discouraged, however. You can still obtain planning permission, providing the right approach is taken, and the designs of your extension do not interfere with the historical character of the building. 

Extending a Grade II listed farmhouse

We worked on this project to create an elegant orangery extension for this Grade II listed property. Our clients decided to completely refurbish their secluded Georgian Farmhouse in the Oxfordshire countryside. The house’s exterior consists of beautiful Flemish bond brickwork and coursed limestone rubble walls, as well as a stone slate roof. They loved the idea of living in a light-filled house with big views across the surrounding land but although their stone-brick home was beautiful, inside the interiors were gloomy and awkwardly laid out, like a warren of rooms.

Initially, our clients were concerned about the challenges ahead, finding it difficult to visualise how they could change the awkward layout to work for their needs. They wanted to create a home that was functional and comfortable for modern family life, in a way that celebrated and accentuated the unique charm of the 1800’s period building. They wanted to move the kitchen to a more suitable space – this is the room they intended on spending the most time in together as a family. However, they did not feel confident about making any of the existing rooms fit a suitably sized kitchen. The room where the kitchen was to be positioned was east facing and would have been quite dark a lot of the time. Also, maximising on the southerly views over the pond was a priority.

Obtaining planning permission for listed properties

When it comes to extending your home with a glazed orangery or garden room, it’s fundamental that you research the planning regulations in your local area and seek pre-application advice from a building professional. They can advise you on building regulations, and whether any special surveys or warrants are required in support of your application.

Suppose you reside in a sensitive location such as a conservation area, green belt, World Heritage Site, national park, or an AONB -it’s likely that your property has stricter rules and regulations. What’s more, your property’s permitted development rights may be removed in these locations under what is known as an Article 4 direction, which is intended to protect and maintain the character of a local area. As a general rule in these sensitive areas, authorities will not class garden rooms and orangeries extending beyond any sidewall of the original house as permitted development. You will need to seek planning permission – but we would recommend always checking with your local planning authority beforehand.

Innovative design and an exceptional service

Due to the nature of our work, we’re highly experienced in applying for planning permission on listed and period properties and can work with a trusted, independent planning consultant where necessary. We will manage the application on your behalf; take care of any paperwork that might be required, and deal with building regulations, SAP (heat loss), and structural engineer’s calculations.

While oversized and bulky uPVC extensions will undoubtedly look unattached and unsuited to the original part of a listed building, a well-designed, bespoke timber orangery or garden room can accentuate the characters of a period house and make the existing interiors flow. When scale and proportion are considered in the design stage, the extension can appear as if it’s always been a part of the main house. Above all, the priority is to bring more light and space into the vital living rooms. With our clients’ project, the planners were shown images of the Farmhouse, with its dated brickwork and original limestone exterior, and conceded that the orangery should ‘float’ off the house and be kept back from the walls, making sure that the elevation was not altered. 

Requiring a remarkable feat of design innovation, we included a large glass panel extending off the stone wall of the main Farmhouse, joining the rustic older walls with the new orangery. We also installed an additional half roof lantern, positioned right by the entrance between the orangery and the main house, which helps to filter sunlight into the kitchen. Our skilled CAD designers drew the project to scale clearly and accurately so that the local authorities could fully understand the plans. We kept the clients informed of how the application progressed, so they felt reassured and supported. 

A light-filled orangery which is the heart of the family home

Now, the property is transformed with a bespoke glazed orangery. The glass allows the homeowners to look straight down the outside wall of the house, helping to enlarge the space and introduce unique viewpoints across the courtyard beyond. The happy discovery that this design not only satisfied the planners, but also worked as a good compromise between the husband, who preferred a more traditional aesthetic, and the wife who preferred a contemporary style! 

Putting the orangery on has revolutionised the kitchen” explains Mrs S. “Frankly, I would not have lived here without it. The previously gloomy room is now filled with light, and we use this room all day long. It has been a total godsend during the lockdown, as the folding doors essentially remove one whole wall and make those working from home feel like they are in the garden. The aftercare service has been particularly good. I would definitely recommend Westbury Garden Rooms.”’

For more information about extending listed properties with bespoke garden rooms, feel free to contact us and someone from the team can discuss your project in more detail.