A PBA-led team secured planning permission in 2016 for a highly unusual earth sheltered dwelling in Croxton. Whilst there is a modern tradition of earth sheltered dwellings in the UK, the dwelling in Croxton – being almost completely self-sustaining, built into a lake bank and sat below the adjoining ground level – is totally unique. The vision for this highly individual home has been realised by Pick Everard Architects.
New homes outside of settlements are extremely rare. An important principle of the planning system in England, is the intrinsic protection of the countryside. However, national planning policy contains an important – but rarely used – exception to this general restraint. Dwellings in an open countryside location can be supported by the local authority where they are of ‘exceptional quality’ or an ‘innovative nature’. In summarised form this may not sound too demanding, but the criteria are very stringent, demonstrated by how few of this type of dwelling get built. To put this in context, of the 143,000 dwellings completed in England during 2015, only approximately six (or 0.004 per cent) were deemed ‘exceptional’ or ‘innovative’ dwellings.
Despite those very long odds, PBA successfully argued that the Croxton dwelling fully meets the ‘exceptional quality’ and ‘innovative nature’ test. Construction of the earth sheltered house is now underway and is due to be completed in 2018.