Liverton Hill House PPS7 application has been approved by Maidstone District Council. The Governments PPS7 policy allows for new country houses in the undeveloped English countryside as long as the design is outstanding or ground breaking. The planners however insisted not only on one but both criteria and therefore the design had to ‘exceed’ all previous PPS7 permissions in the borough. CZWG worked with DHA planning consultants and Max Fordham to design the building.
Piers Gough, Partner at CZWG and WAN juror explains: “Like a new chateau or a vineyard, our clients wanted to live in the middle of one of their glorious orchards. We have had the opportunity to guide these newly planted rows of trees to fit with the new house, which is variously oriented to enjoy views in differing directions.”
The site is an orchard sloping to the south that offers panoramic views across the Kent countryside. The design is inspired by and connected to the site and the surrounding landscape. On approach the house comes into view as steep roofs covered in Kentish pegtiles which appear over a crescent sloped rag stone wall rising from the landscape.
The house has been planned to take full advantage of the views. At entrance level the principal living rooms are arranged across the southern façade. At the east end the kitchen and family room open on to a morning terrace and at the west end the living room and study open on to an evening terrace. At the centre of the elevation the landscape drops to allow an unencumbered panoramic view of the orchards and the Kent countryside. At lower ground level the indoor pool has French windows opening onto a terrace with an external pool.
The environmental strategy is integrated with the orchard, finding a use for waste fruit which would otherwise be sent to landfill. The waste fruit is put into an anaerobic digester to power a biogas combined heat and power (CHP) plant – a pioneering use of this emerging technology. This renewable solution meets all the house’s annual heating and electricity requirements and allows the development to pioneer a Code for Sustainable Homes level 6 family home while modelling the use of this innovative rural energy supply.
The house also incorporates passive design to reduce summer overheating and avoid mechanical cooling. These methods include summer shading by balconies and an external screen inspired by ‘espalier’ orchard planting.