Change too far backfires for Milton Keynes 'eco home' builder

Bow Brickhill
Bow Brickhill

A home builder made so many changes to an eco house’s original innovative designs that the council has now refused planning permission.

The site of the house in the village of Bow Brickhill has been fiercely fought over for years and Milton Keynes Council now says there were “inconsistencies” between the plans, information supplied, and what has actually been built on the site.

Designs submitted to the council show a half buried house, with an earth covered roof, and sand coloured render panels that is a part of the landscape. But they say the actual home built bears little relation to the plans.

There was also meant to be a pond, but that has not been developed and the earth on site has been shifted around so much that the side of a hill has collapsed.

The innovative design, submitted by Old Wolverton-based planning agent Smith Jenkins Ltd on behalf of Gill-Hudson Homes, gave it the edge at a planning appeal, where it was given permission despite being in the protected open countryside.

MK Council planning officer Charlotte Ashby paints a different picture. In her report she states: “The development as originally permitted was designed to sit into the hillside with minimal impact upon the landscape or ecology of the site.

“However, unauthorised works to the site have significantly altered the contours of the site and resulted in the collapse of part of the hill and large areas of mounding along the boundaries of the site.”

A previous plan was withdrawn due to the “substantial difference between the approved and proposed” and the latest application was “submitted to address the variation”.

When they visited the site to the west of London End Lane council officers said the home was highly visible from the bridleway rather than set into the land as originally proposed.

Council planners say there are inaccuracies between various plans as well as between the submitted plans and the property that has been built.

“The application fails to provide a coherent and reliable basis for consideration of the proposal,” said Charlotte Ashby.

“Although the design of the proposal is innovative, the current proposal, together with unauthorised works have moved the development so far away from the original low impact scheme approved at appeal in 2009 that the proposal would not be considered to enhance its immediate setting.

“The proposal is not considered to be acceptable in principle.”

Various objections were raised by villagers.

One said: “The existing dwelling and self-contained annex is little more than a standard property with solar panels and should not be allowed within open countryside.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted the developer’s agent, Smith Jenkins Ltd, who declined to comment.

Gill-Hudson Homes, based in Silsoe, Bedfordshire, was first offered the opportunity to comment on Tuesday afternoon but had not responded by 5pm on Wednesday.