How to Develop a Small Residential Scheme

The Scheme – Walters Architects Leicester have recently completed a Pre Planning Application for a small residential development in Leicester. It involves a small infill site with an existing red brick coach house to the rear. The client wanted to maintain the existing building as it is a reasonable size, in fairly good condition and reflects the character of the local area.

The existing coach house is intended to become two x 1 bed, self-contained apartments whilst 3 new builds (1 bed) apartments have been suggested at the front of the site.

The Approach – Located on a fairly typical Victorian terraced street, the proposal at the front of the site will infill a gap in the elevation of the street. As is normally the case in this type of setting, there are parking issues on the road. Our development has been intentionally designed so as not to include any additional parking. Because the plot is so close to a local town centre, we hope the planners will disregard the need for parking. This is a technique usually associated with city centre apartment schemes because, arguably, the residents won’t need to drive as part of their everyday activities and if they need to travel there is a good public transport system locally. These types of areas are referred to as ‘Service Centres’ in terms of planning.

The rear of the new building to the front of the site
The rear of the new building to the front of the site

The Design – The height of the new building to the front of the site is the same as the existing houses along the road, although it has a flat roof so as to allow 2nd storey accommodation. We have been very careful to make sure our roof is no higher than those existing ridge lines around us.

This flat roof gives a Modernist feel and the materials we’ve chosen are contemporary but match or complement others along the road. Whilst we have used brick, it is of a light colour, similar in tone to some rendered houses on the street. A majority of the houses on the road are red brick Victorian terraces but there have been a couple of infills and variations in the area and our design is a reflection of this evolution.

The proportions of the windows on the proposed front elevation match those sash windows of the neighbouring terraces. The wall to the front is similar to those typical of a Victorian street. Whereas a traditional house may include a slate or concrete roof tile above the first floor, we have opted for a timber-clad solution. This will simply signify a change in material above the first floor as is typical in the street. This timber is used elsewhere on the proposed scheme.

To allow more space internally we have suggested an external covered staircase to the coach houses. This is intended to be light timber and contrast the existing red brick. This addition is obviously not part of the original structure but is clearly an extended element. Usually, this is an approach adopted by conservation projects and celebrates the association between new and old. The same approach for the staircase has been suggested for the rear of the new building to the front of the scheme so as to tie the two (existing & proposed) elements together.

Refurbished Coach House with external timber staircase
Refurbished Coach House with external timber staircase

The Process – Obviously this approach of not including allocated parking within the scheme is risky, which is why Walters Architects are suggesting a detailed Pre Planning submission in the first instance. As part of a full planning application, planners now ask if ‘Pre Advice’ was sought and they like to see the early advice incorporated into a full Planning Application on submission. If the planners don’t like the scheme and consider it as ‘over development’ or want allocated car parking (1.5 spaces per bedroom), we will simply have to revise the scheme and go again. A Pre Planning application cost less to prepare than a full application and is dealt with by the council much quicker. Therefore, the client is more than happy with this approach as it should take less time, cost less and still be a necessary part of the process. It may also result in more units on the site.

Our proposal is of high quality, is considerate of its surroundings and has taken into account the occupants and their everyday requirements. If the planners can accept the principle of the development being part of a ‘Service Centre’ then we will be excited to take the scheme through to construction. It all rests on the parking requirements, hence the Pre Application approach.

If you’d like to know more about Pre Planning applications and their benefits, please check out the Planning Portal at or call our office for a quick chat on 0116 2541830. We love working on schemes like this and would be more than happy to discuss your potential project.