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Across the country, behind closed doors, we British are building.
We're building up, down and out to improve our homes.
It's really going to mean a lot to get the planning permission through
so we can actually go forward.
But before we build, we need permission.
Permission from the planners.
A bunch of people dedicated to protecting our public spaces
I've got to say that I've got major concerns.
So if you've ever wanted a bigger kitchen, an extra bedroom
or an en suite bathroom, stand by.
It's time to Plan It, Build It.
Home is where the heart is,
but finding the perfect place to put down roots can be
an emotionally draining business.
The hassle and expense of moving are huge
so it's no surprise many of us stretch ourselves to buy
somewhere we can live for longer than the UK 12-year average.
But homes are rarely perfect when we buy them.
Getting them the way we want can involve renovations,
some building work, often a pricey extension.
Planners are inundated with applications from people who
have grand ideas for their homes and who are determined to
create their perfect living space in their desired area.
We do work really hard at trying to get people what they want,
but it can't impact on nearby properties.
Today it's all about creating a dream home.
Can homeowners with a vision make alterations and improvements without
being forced into unacceptable and often expensive compromises?
The planners will meet
a man who is desperate to fulfil a long-term ambition...
It felt right. It ticked the boxes.
It's actually attached to a Grade II-listed building.
..and a family who have strong views about their perfect home.
Well, I've instructed my architect that I'm not
comfortable at all with that.
I think in its present state, it possibly isn't quite,
This show isn't just about the money,
it's also about following a dream but by following their dreams,
can our homeowners also add value to their properties?
And will an improvement to their home be an improvement
to their neighbourhood?
The narrow streets and picturesque period houses of Old Hastings
are increasingly popular.
Old Hastings is a stone's throw from the sea, with a trendy art gallery,
unique shops and quirky visitor attractions.
People who visit fall in love with the area's bohemian atmosphere
and many move here for sea air and a better quality of life.
Some of the wooden-clad properties date back to Medieval times,
and with so much history, is it any wonder house prices are higher
than the Hastings' average?
A four or five-bed townhouse will set you back
between £400,000 to £600,000,
depending on the views and the state of the property.
The council are understandably keen to preserve the historic
character of Old Hastings and planner Carol Boydell
is excited about the latest application.
I've had an application from the Old Town, it's in Tackelway.
It's not somewhere many holiday makers seem to find at all,
they don't seem to venture up there.
They've applied for planning permission to change the roof tiles,
add a piece of cornice along the front that's gone missing over the
years, render the rear, replacement windows and doors.
Peter Varley has moved around for most of his life,
but he would dearly love to eventually settle in Old Hastings.
He recently bought this two-bed terraced house for £250,000.
It's a charming property with fabulous views,
but it needs a complete overhaul to become his dream home.
I was looking for a place on the front for ages
and I often walk down this street thinking how nice it was
without thinking a house here would be good and then this place
came on the market, I went and saw it and it felt right.
It ticked the boxes.
It's actually attached to a grade II-listed building so I need to check
the impact on the setting of the listed building and on the character
and setting of the conservation area, make sure there's no impact.
So it looks a bit of a mess, but it's not as bad as it looks.
So let's take a look inside.
Peter plans to spend 120,000 doing up the house.
He thinks it could be worth as much as 350,000 when finished.
He will attempt to completely renovate the property and turn
it into his perfect home, but because it's an old building in such
an historic area, everything external has to be approved by planning.
This has been and will be the kitchen.
There's going to be a folding sliding door from there to there
OK, so here we are in the rear yard.
The brickwork that you see is going to be repaired and then rendered.
I can also have a pastel colour included in the render which is
used a lot in the Old Town so I think that would look really nice.
-Any other issues?
-There are old asbestos slates on this roof
which I've had tested. Had to have them tested to find out
the asbestos composition.
When you change the roof covering, of course, that again effects the
external appearance of the building so it's a planning permission issue.
Peter wants to restore the outside facade to its 19th century
splendour and add new bedrooms, kitchen and a dining area.
Planners encourage people to return homes to their former glory,
but they keep a close eye on exactly how it's done.
It's good that people are actually reinstating...
I know it seems crazy that you need planning permission to reinstate
an original feature but regardless, it still needs planning permission.
Peter's plans for his perfect home will rest on what Carol sees
when she makes her crucial site inspection.
We British love our homes.
In fact, last year we spent a massive £10.5 billion doing up
and renovating our properties.
Many of us have an idea of just how our dream home would look
if money was no object.
But planners have a duty to stop anything that might harm
the local environment.
This can often lead to homeowner frustration, especially
if they're required to compromise on their dream.
People's homes are important
because they have a lot of emotional interest there.
Many people have lived there for several years for instance
and invested a lot of time and energy on their home,
so of course it's very important to them.
This is the Sheffield borough of Eccleshall,
one of the most desirable places to live in the city.
With large houses, quiet streets and plenty of green space,
the area attracts middle-class professional families.
There is the odd bargain, but large detached properties
on the most gentrified streets are worth well over 500,000.
Sheffield Council are responsible for maintaining the look
of Eccleshall and planner Simon Tucker has dealt with increasing numbers
of applications from people with grand visions for their homes.
This street, they are executive houses.
So as times have changed, we get more applications for master suites
and what have you where you get a dressing room,
an en suite attached to the main bedroom.
And those kind of things that are quite fashionable, really,
for executive homes these days.
Greg and Nicola Thompson bought this detached family home
in Eccleshall seven years ago for 370,000.
It's a magnificent property, with four reception rooms,
four bedrooms and a huge garden leading on to woodland.
But the Thompson's desperately want planning permission to add
an additional 40 square metres.
We're hoping to extend in two bedrooms upstairs, one of them being
an en suite and then in addition to that, hopefully we're going to
replace the roof and that's going to give us a bigger living area
in the loft with two bedrooms and I think we're going to have a...
We're going to have quite a large room that we're going to turn into a cinema room.
The Thompsons plan to spend 50,000 to 70,000 on their extension,
adding dormer windows to the front and raising
the height of the roof to give them two more bedrooms and a cinema room.
But prepare to be amazed - they estimate the house could be
worth a staggering £750,000 when they've finished. Wow.
Of course, they have no intention of selling up.
They're just determined to create their perfect home.
-The other area we could have gone down was move, couldn't we?
And we decided we're settled here, the kids...
Well, Alex is at school literally 300 yards down the road.
Will starts there this year and the schooling's excellent in the area.
So, yeah, it was important for us, we made a decision to
stay in the property and just try and build on that really.
So the idea is we're literally just coming out three metres,
maybe a little bit more, but we're coming out so everything's in line
and it's just creating a little bit more space for us, really.
They also want to do some roof alterations as well which will
probably be the most prominent bit you're going to see from the street.
Essentially, what they're proposing to do is to increase the roof pitch
slightly to get a higher roof
and get quite sizable attic accommodation.
The main things we'll be looking to are whether it
fits in with the general street scene.
There's also whether the dormers themselves are in character
with the street.
A lot of the properties on our street have already undertaken
similar sort of extensions so all being well, we're hoping that it
should be quite a straightforward process again, really.
Greg may be confident they'll get their plans approved,
but planners work to strict guidelines,
and Simon has plenty of things to consider, both front and back,
before the en suite and cinema room become a reality.
Back in Old Hastings, Carol has arrived to perform her
crucial site inspection.
Remember, Peter has plans to completely renovate his property,
but needs planning permission for almost every alteration.
You've started work on the renovation then?
-Yes, it's a bit dusty.
-I'm used to it.
Wow, what a lovely view.
Right, so these are the asbestos tiles that are to be replaced.
It's the replacement tiles that we would need a sample of just
so we can see what's going to go up there.
But I think I read that it's to match the adjacent property.
Yeah, which is composite.
-So it looks like slate, but it's not.
-OK. No, that's fine.
We normally ask for samples just to double check that it's...OK.
-There's no rush, it would be added as a condition.
So the other two are rendered already.
You're going to replace this window and door with a larger opening.
-That'll let a lot more light in, won't it?
And that's the listed building there, isn't it? OK.
-You've got replacement windows and door?
And you're reinstating the cornice along the front, that's good.
Yes, it says on the application cement render,
but I was wondering if I could do it in fibreglass.
I don't know if I've come across that before, can I look into it?
-Is that OK?
Right, I'll make a note about that and I'll let you know.
And now to the finer points.
-One thing, the paint on the front.
-I think I put on the application white.
-Can that be sort of off-white?
What I'll do, I'll have a word with my conservation officer
and just make sure there's no reason that she can see
-why it can't be off-white.
The Old Town has many pastel painted-buildings.
They're a charming feature.
But town planners regulate colours,
and even care about the look of your front door.
It might be that we'll be asking for the panels to be slightly...
proportioned differently because normally, it would be a smaller,
lower panel but I'll have a look at that.
It's not something that would be a problem, we can just condition that.
-Right, thank you very much for that, showing me around.
The consultation period closes in a couple of weeks
so you'll hear from me soon.
-All right? Thank you, bye.
-Thank you. Bye.
That seemed positive but what does Carol think?
The only issues are really to do with the door and possibly
with the cornicing and it depends on the finish of the slate.
If we ask for a sample and it's not acceptable, it could be refused
but he seems like he wants to do a good job.
I'm sure he'll do what's best for the property.
I'm actually starting to realise the vision I have for this place,
that I'm going to get it as I want it. Fingers crossed.
Over in Sheffield, Simon has arrived on the Thompson's doorstep.
-Hello, is it Mr Thompson?
-It is, yes.
-Oh, hiya, Simon.
-Hello, Simon, nice to meet you.
Greg and Nicola's grand plans for an extra 40 square metres of roof space
with an en suite bathroom, extra bedrooms and a cinema room
rely on what Simon sees during this vital site inspection.
All I need to see is just see the outside so is it possible to just go outside to...?
Yeah, of course it is.
Do you want us to leave you to your own devices and then come in or...?
It's up to you, really. I mean, I don't need you here,
if you want me to just take a quick look outside, so that'll be fine.
Now he's alone, Simon needs to see if Greg and Nicola's roof
extension will have an unacceptable impact on their neighbours.
The impact probably isn't going to be much
greater than the first floor windows that are there,
regards to the neighbours on either side.
It's obviously a very long garden that we've got here so...
Well, it shouldn't be that significant really.
So it's looking good from this angle.
-OK, I've done all I need to do around the back...
If we get the application approved, Simon, is it three years
-from the approval date that we've got to start the build?
And how's the visit gone this morning?
-Has it all been quite straightforward?
The main things I've got to look at are, for the rear extension,
it's the impacts on the neighbours on either side
and for the front of it, it's mainly the impact of the roof extensions.
-And how that fits in with the general street scene and what have you.
Thanks for your time, Simon.
Before Simon goes back to the office, he needs to double check
the all-important front elevation.
I'm a bit concerned at the proposed scale of the roof extension,
I'm a bit concerned that it might be out of proportion with the general
street scene and also the proportions of the house as well.
This is a common problem for planners.
A large roof extension changes the proportions of the house,
making it taller than it is wide.
Furthermore, where neighbouring houses have pitched roofs,
a box shape can look out of place.
At the present state, it possibly isn't quite acceptable
so it's really looking at that and also looking at the impact
of the dormers as well, which do accentuate the height of that a bit.
Simon might have concerns, but at least Greg's upbeat.
Well, I think, generally, it just went as expected,
it was quite straightforward.
Whether we get something on paper or an objection from a neighbour,
that's the only thing I really foresee delaying the process, really.
-But, yeah, I think just as expected.
Well, we'll soon see, Greg.
Over in Old Hastings, where Peter is hoping to create his dream home,
head planner Raymond Crawford is walking the job.
He tries to spends a couple of days a month out
and about in his patch, keeping an eye on what's going on.
He always loves spending time in the Old Town.
A really high proportion of the buildings in the Old Town are listed
and that's actually what attracts a lot of people to move here.
I think, quite naively, people think they can keep all the nice bits
and make all sorts of changes to modernise them.
With a listed building, it's not just the outside that's listed,
it's the inside and there's a house on the East Hill
that's got original William Morris wallpaper and so in there,
the wallpaper is an important character.
You can't even go down to B&Q and replace the wallpaper.
And Raymond has seen plenty of planning mistakes in the past.
Behind me, you've got a pair of semi-detached houses which is,
kind of, quite out of the ordinary
and not really something we should expect to see in the Old Town.
I think now, if we had an application for something like this,
we'd have refused it. We'd have expected the building to come up
to the road front just like the old properties.
But, clearly, and over time, when it came in, people were less sensitive
about the old character and it was all about new, modern.
Yeah, we want front gardens.
Will it fit in with the grain of the Old Town?
Here's something Raymond's team can do something about.
We've got a bit of an issue with the colour of this particular one,
which we're pursuing.
The others are all quite subtly painted.
The interesting thing here though is the building just behind me
was built in the 1970s.
It's not pretending to be old at all,
it's very much of its time, but I think it's really quite
successful because the scale of it is in-keeping with the area.
It's got the right kind of feel
and grain of the Old Town whilst still not pretending to be old.
With such a rich mish-mash of architectural history,
it's no surprise people are flocking to live
and extend in Old Hastings, but Raymond has a word of caution.
In somewhere like the Old Town,
in particular where the gardens are very small
and the houses very close together, if you're thinking about extending,
you're eating into that very little bit of amenity space you've got.
So you do need to think very carefully about the compromises
you're making and whether what you end up with is what you actually need.
Right, over to Sheffield
and things aren't as straightforward as the Thompsons had hoped.
Simon has had time to think over their proposals
and now has major reservations.
What they're seeking at the moment is a roof extension.
It is quite a tall extension, it would be taller
than the two neighbours on either side.
The other element that I'm probably going to query the most
with my team leader is the issue to do with
the two front dormer windows.
I'm not sure they really fit in with the style of house.
With these difficult issues hanging over the Thompson's plans,
their dream extension is in jeopardy.
Simon needs to refer the application to one of Sheffield's senior
planners, Chris Heeley.
The issue of I've got really
is to do with the scale of the roof extension.
I think the concern here is the ridge height here is going to
be higher than the ridge height of the neighbours.
I just think it would look a bit discordant
in terms of the general street scene.
I think the main issue I would like your advice on, Chris,
is to do with the dormer windows.
I'm unconvinced they fit in with the proportions of the house.
As it stands at the moment, I'd be quite confident to recommend
-that for refusal.
-Yeah, I would agree with that.
Can they put them on the rear to achieve the same accommodation?
Well, I certainly think it is feasible.
-Yeah, I'm happy with that.
This news is a big blow to the Thompsons.
A restricted roof height and dormer windows on the rear
will force them to scale back their plans,
restricting the amount of space for the bedrooms and cinema room.
Greg is reporting the bad news back to Nicola.
So I've had a call back from the architect this afternoon,
he's had some reservations back from the council
with regards to the plans.
Two key areas that they want to try and make some amendments on.
One's the dormer windows on the front of the property.
They're suggesting that they'd be more comfortable
if we could place them on the rear.
So, the architect's aware that the house next door has already got
-dormer windows on the front?
-Well, I've told him, yeah.
And they're also talking about trying to enforce some
kind of height restriction on the roof as well.
Restrictions on the height will cut down the internal space,
and Greg is loathe to change the location of the dormer windows.
I'd really like to try and keep the dormers on the front.
I don't see a reason why we can't do that, I think it's going to
add to the attractiveness of the house.
I'm struggling a little bit to see some logic as to why
they're not prepared to accept the dormer windows on the front.
I'll be instructing my architect that I'm not comfortable
at all with that this evening.
In Hastings, Carol has had time to think about Peter's plans
for his Old Town home.
The 21-day neighbourhood consultation period has now
passed so he's anxious to find out
if he's got the planning permission he vitally needs.
I'm hopeful because I think... I get the impression they want to support
people bringing these old houses back to...
as close to original condition externally as possible
and that's what I'm trying to do.
Carol has written her report,
but wants to run a couple of points by senior planner, Karen Phillips.
-So, he's putting a new roof on, is he?
So what roof tiles is he proposing?
-Slate of sort.
This cornice was brought up.
He mentioned a fibreglass moulding and whether that would be acceptable,
but I'd said I'd need to discuss that back in the office
because I haven't come across that before.
So I think the best thing to do, maybe,
is if I can just put it as a condition?
-Yes, details of that, yes.
-Or a sample, yeah?
The other thing he brought up was painting the front.
He's asking for either an off-white or a cream
and that's pretty much what's in the area.
So nothing drastic?
No, so I thought maybe just ask for a sample.
Yeah. Yeah, it sounds like it's pretty subtle,
he doesn't want bright pink or anything.
It's now time for Peter to discover
if he can have planning to build a home he always wanted.
MOBILE PHONE RINGS
I just wondered if there's been any movements?
-OK, yes, a decision has just been made actually...
..and it has been granted.
That's a yes for Peter!
Carol felt that Peter's plans were complementary to the Old Town.
I'm really pleased, yeah.
So I'll have a few beers tonight.
Take two for the Thompsons.
In Sheffield, Simon has received their new and updated plans.
He sat down with Chris to work out if the new drawings are acceptable.
What they've done, which is never ideal, essentially they've
-just made the top of the roof a flat roof structure.
And the other thing I'm concerned about
is the dormer windows themselves.
They don't really relate very well
with the style of house, quite simply.
It draws your eye to the fact that the side extension on that house
doesn't really align that well and also doesn't really
complement the large bay windows beneath very well either.
Mmm, this isn't sounding good.
And I think my final issue with them is that they do draw your attention
to the roof and probably do draw your attention to the flat roof bit.
-It's a combination.
-I think it does lead to an overly fussy roof.
You've got two elements there that aren't necessarily
part of the street scene.
So your feeling is a refusal?
I think as it currently stands, it's a justifiable refusal
as it is against our design policies.
I've given them a deadline to get the amended plans
which is the 8th of April,
so if we don't get them by then,
then I think it will be delegated a refusal.
Things might not be going well in Sheffield,
but in Hastings, Peter has started construction on his dream home.
It might have all taken longer than he hoped,
but the project is now well under way.
As you can see, the scaffolding's up.
It's really good to finally start after such a long stage of planning.
This is one of the two bedrooms.
The big change is behind this tarpaulin
which is they've taken the old roof covering off.
So this bedroom at the back of the house is the one
that I'm probably going to have as my room.
I'm going to have a bed here
and I do realise that I've got line of sight
for when I'm sitting up in the bed in the morning, drinking my coffee.
I can see the sea and the pier through the window
so that's why I've decided to have this room.
I knew in my mind that the planning might be a challenge,
but it's been more of a challenge than I expected.
I hadn't anticipated quite so much attention to detail.
Now, we've started the execution of it,
it seems to be going really smoothly.
It's really exciting seeing it all come together.
I just can't wait cos I know it's going to be really nice inside.
Back in Sheffield, in an effort to salvage their dream home,
Greg and Nicola have decided to compromise.
Chris and Simon have received their new plans.
From a design point of view,
the extension isn't going to look out of place in the street scene.
The Thompsons architect has finally come up with a way of
lowering the height of the roof
and replacing the dormers with sky lights without losing space.
But are Greg and Nicola happy
they'll still get the home they always wanted?
Although we're disappointed that they didn't get approved, I think,
in hindsight, we can see the council's perspective
and point of view.
From our perspective, we've still got a nice design
that's going to give us what we need.
There are probably some design elements we were...
Mainly, the flat roof element that we are probably less keen on.
Although we disagreed with the original decision,
I think, in hindsight, they probably made the right choice
-and we're happy with that decision.
-Yes, we are.
It was important to get the approval, wasn't it,
because this is our dream home, we don't intend on moving from here.
We just want to create a bigger family house, don't we?
And we just know that moving forward, we can do the extension
and make more room for us all upstairs.
-It seems to have worked out perfectly, hasn't it.
-Yeah, it has.
The Thompsons have planned it and will soon build it.
They will get their extra bedrooms AND the cinema room.
Plus, it's estimated they will add around 150,000
to the price of their home.
Peter will also get the house he always wanted.
The build and decoration should be completed within months
and he believes the house will be worth an extra 100,000 when finished.
Two dream homes with very impressive price tickets.
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