New Build Home Planning, West Kent

Currently in progress – last updated May 2024

Client Brief

Our client originally contacted us in 2015 as they wanted to demolish and replace the agricultural bungalow they lived in, which was poorly built with multiple build issues. It had recently been discovered that the bungalow had not been built in its original consented location and therefore the agricultural occupancy condition (AOC) which states the owner must be, or have last been in agricultural work, was able to be removed.

We advised the client that rebuilding was the best option.

Their requirements were:

  • A significantly larger replacement house located in part on the footprint of the existing bungalow
  • 4 bedrooms
  • A high standard finish
  • Make the most of the beautiful views
  • Generous reception areas

Soon after receiving planning permission, our clients decided to explore with another architect the possibility of retaining much of the existing bungalow by extending upwards and outwards to reduce build costs.

Although approved, the end result was an unattractive, two-storey property which would sit incongruously within the beautiful landscape. As it would have been subject to VAT at the standard rate, it was financially unviable. New build properties, which is what our plans were for, are generally zero rated for VAT, whereas the extension and improvement of existing properties are usually subject to the standard VAT rate of 20%.

Our client decided to return to Vernacular Homes in 2021. 

Planning ideas

Improved design
We re-submitted an improved and slightly larger version of our 2015 planning application which was approved eight weeks later.  We proposed to relocate the property to one side of the existing bungalow, allowing our clients to remain on site while we built their new home.

The site is located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB – now known as National Landscapes/NL) –  on the crest of a hill, so the height of the building was always going to be sensitive from a planning perspective: too high and it would be rejected. A combination of lowered floor levels, and rooms in the roof helped keep the overall height down. We met the planning and landscape officers who were very supportive and suggested a few minor changes which softened the ridge line of the building and allowed the application to pass.

Weather proofing
Due to the location in a windswept valley, the client was keen to limit the impact of the weather to avoid frequent future maintenance and repair costs. To meet this part of the brief, we paid close attention to the form of the building with projecting overhangs and recessed balcony to provide some protection. The building to some extent shelters itself; we added some more protection within the design.

Budget management
Adding a storey offers a big saving on the square metre rate of the build, so achieving this in the planning process really helped to gain extra floor space at a reasonable cost. We were able to incorporate the high-end bathrooms, tiling, flooring and kitchen the client wanted, as well as air conditioning and a cinema system.

The client benefitted from the new property being zero rated for VAT purposes, whereas the works and costs involved in upgrading and extending the existing bungalow, as suggested by the other architect they consulted would have led to VAT being chargeable in addition.

Spacious living
The new dwelling provides an impressive 325m2 of living space for the client, a huge increase on the 175m2 original bungalow.


Maximising space while keeping costs down was essential to give the client a property of the size and finish they required. We designed a creative way of connecting two areas on the first floor without adding to the overall mass of the property by linking them via an elevated walkway; these spaces largely utilise the two higher roof areas at either end of the property without making the whole house higher or bulkier.

We also had to give consideration to the property being in an AONB/NL. Careful design helped blend it into the landscape, reducing the impact of any increase in size when viewed from the front elevation.

What our client said…

“We wanted a ‘vernacular’ Kentish design as the house is in a prominent position, and the council is particular about granting planning permission. We needed it to be suitable for a family of four to grow into and to maximise the views (and mitigate the exposure to the weather!).

“They’ve come up with some great ideas that we wouldn’t have thought of ourselves; the bridge link between the two parts of the house across the full height is amazing!”

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