3 – Olive Stores – Design and Planning

| 17th October 2015 | 0 Comments

Design and Planning – How I Designed the Scheme for the Development and then Obtained Planning Permission

Olive Stores, Brenchley, Kent TN12 7NQ

No 3 in series

The last article entitled ‘Olive Stores – Negotiate Purchase’ told the story of how I located and agreed a deal to buy the Olive Stores property in the pretty village of Brenchley. Thrilling, edge of your seat stuff!

This article will tell you how design and planning are key to the success of any development; working with my Architect and Planning Consultant, I designed a scheme and obtained planning permission for the conversion of the Grade 2 Listed property into two 4 storey town houses. It was a rocky road but persistence paid off.

Pre-Application Meeting

The first step in the process was the Pre-Application meeting which was held at the Council Offices. Those present included my Architect, the Planning Consultant, the Conservation officer and a planning officer.


Picture of planning meeting


This meeting took place a few days after I had agreed the purchase with the seller. I needed to establish if my plans for the property would meet with council approval. If the meeting went well I would proceed with the purchase. If it didn’t and I felt the risk was too great then I would withdraw from the deal. There is no point having the meeting without first having a deal; you must have the meeting before exchange of contracts.

These Pre-Application meetings are generally informal affairs where your ideas can be discussed and the council can provide a view based on current planning policy. No decision will be made. Having said that you can normally gauge from the discussions if your application is likely to be approved or not and how much work you are going to have to put in should the chance of success be 50/50 at best.

What I needed to establish from the meeting was a) will the council support the change of use from Commercial to Full Residential and b) will the council and conservation officer look favourably at a scheme to convert the property into two houses, thus giving the property a new life whilst conserving the story of its history.

The meeting went well……the planning officer said that the councils default position regarding the Change of Use would be to approve such a change. Great News. (When I say default position, what this means is that current policy is leaning towards approval and it would be for others to persuade the council that change of use would not be a good idea.)

There was then a general conversation about how the property could be converted. The conservation officer suggested that an Archaeological survey would be required to assess the structure. These are quite expensive – ouch! – but I understood why one would be needed. A bullet would need to be bitten.

Here is the report:


Arch survey


The meeting concluded with a site visit being arranged with me, my Architect and the Conservation officer in attendance.

I now felt confident that I would be granted planning permission. I therefore instructed my Solicitor to proceed with purchase. There was of course still a risk but that risk is where the money is. To buy property without planning permission in place will generally always make you more money.

Site Visit

The site meeting lasted about 2 hours. The property is triple fronted and 4 storeys so there was a lot of prodding and poking to be done.

By the end of the visit the Conservation Officer had a better understanding of the property and when a design/scheme was presented to him, how that scheme/design would fit into the layout. The Archaeological Survey would fill in the gaps in his knowledge.


Soon after the site visit my Architect arranged for survey drawings to be created. These showed the existing layout of the property.

Olive Stores – Survey – Elevations Olive Stores – Survey – Floor plans

Olive Stores – Survey – Elevations

One of the stipulations mentioned by the Conservation officer was that he didn’t want the front of the property to change in any way. He didn’t want the street scene to be affected which was fair enough. It did mean we would need to retain the original shop front.

I wanted to create two 4 storey houses with 3 -4 bedrooms, dressing rooms, ensuite bathrooms and utility rooms. Basically I wanted all the potential buyer boxes ticked.

The first thing he did was draw in the crucial party wall from basement to attic. This would provide the fire, thermal and acoustic partition. This all worked across the 4 floors apart from two small areas on the 1st and 2nd floor where he had to design in a couple of kinks to get around existing windows. These would be the Flying Freeholds where additional fire and acoustic protection would be required.

To achieve the 3 – 4 bedrooms in each property I would need to extend to the rear into the catslide roof. This would mean the horrible additions would be removed and a lovely tile hung triple gable extension would be built. Lovely. (To pay homage to the catslide my Architect left in place a full area of catslide from eaves to ridge to provide evidence of its original existence for ever more. This is a type of conservation.)

The drawings to support the application were produced and next came the Design and Access Statement.

Design and Access Statement

A Design and Access Statement is a short report accompanying and supporting a planning application. My Design and Access Statement would provide a framework for me to explain how my proposed development is suitable for the building and the village and it would also show that all prospective users will be able to access the property without issue.

The Design and Access Statement must layout clearly the design principles and concepts that the Architect has applied to the development. As the property is Listed Building, the Design and Access Statement will need to show how this has been taken into account within the design. There is also the chance to confirm how local policy has been accounted for to face off any issues. The pre-application meeting will have identified access and design issues so the Design and Access

Local Support

You must garner support from the neighbours. Get them to write letters to the Planning Officer. You can help them by providing the Planning application reference and the council address. I have in the past provide them with a stamped addressed envelope to make it easy.

My Olive Stores development was contentious as the property was in the middle of the village and was one of the few commercial units still in existence so I needed as many letters of support as possible. The locals however knew that many businesses, 6 in the last 10 years, had tried and failed to make a go of it so another use for the building was urgently needed.

Over a period of a few weeks I created relationships with the Butcher, Landlady of the local Pub, the Post Office Ladies, the owner of the Forge next door plus other locals and neighbours. I told them about my plans and all were lovely to me. I still see them from time to time and I am still very grateful for their foresight and support.

Parish Council

The Parish Councils opinion is very important to me when I carry out any of my developments. I would never want to build something that they didn’t approve of. Where possible I always try to attend the Parish Planning Meeting so I can tell them about my plans face to face and answer any questions. On this occasion the meeting happened before I knew about it. Like my neighbours they knew the property needed someone like me to spend a great deal of money on it so they voted in favour and informed the Council accordingly.

Planning Application Submitted and Registered.

The planning application submitted early in January 2014 included:

  • Planning Application
  • Design and Access Statement
  • Archaeological Report
  • Two sets of drawings – survey and design
  • Location Plan
  • Block Plan
  • Ownership Certificate
  • Application Fee – In this case we paid but then it was refunded as the property was Listed. Happy days.
    The planning process is meant to take 8 weeks from registration. During this time a notice is placed at the property providing details of the planning application and inviting enquiries. Letters are also sent to neighbours.

After receipt the planning department will send the relevant information to outside agencies. In this case the agencies involved were:

  • Highways Agency
  • Environmental Services
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
  • English Heritage

The full application is also sent to the Conservation Officer who will look at the submission in detail and pass initial comment. This may require the submission of additional information and re-design.

In my case they felt the rear extensions were too large and that they cramped the property to the rear. We brought the extensions back from the eaves by 1000mm and re-submitted. As mentioned previously the front of the property would remain unchanged, the side elevation however would receive a new window and a new side access.

Internally the Conservation Officer wanted to ensure the original structure was minimally affected. The design produced by my Architect had achieved this with only the rear catslide rafters requiring removal to enable the construction of the triple gable extensions.

Planning Decision

There was much more tooing and froing between my Architect and the Council but I won’t bore you with the detail.

Planning Permission was granted for my Development on the 29th of April 2014, a full 16 weeks after first registration. This application needed the 16 weeks to ensure all parties were happy. You only get one shot at converting a Listed Building sympathetically so best make sure it is straight and true.

During the 16 weeks I had exchanged contracts on the purchase and as mentioned I had agreed to pay £1,000 per week for every week or part that the completion extended beyond the 1st of April. I completed the purchase early May and had to pay 5 weeks charges. Please go to my article “How to buy a property for development” to find out the difficulties I experienced during the purchase process.

I had also during the 16 weeks been meeting contractors on site to discuss my plans and to obtain prices for the works. This helped me to finalise my budget. Please go to my article “How to find & employ builders and sub-contractors”.

Finally, now we had obtained planning permission, the bank issued the lending facility which ensured I had the funds to complete the development.  Please go to my article “How to obtain Development Funding” for more information.




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Category: Design and Planning, My Projects, Olive Stores - Brenchley, Property Developing, Property Professionals

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