Monthly Archives: March 2009

Changes in Planning Regulations make it easier than ever before to embark on building projects.

By | Architectural / Interior Design, Architecture, Residential Developments, Residential Interior Design | No Comments

Since October 1st 2008 there have been some quite significant changes with the Planning Regulations in relation to private dwellings. Classified as ‘permitted development’, the parameters have been broadened to allow more types of work to not require planning permission.

With projects such as loft conversions or house extensions, there are now size guidelines, within which a project would not require planning permission.  The process a home owner must go through is ‘self certification’ – this boils down to the council sending out a very simple tick box questionnaire, if you answer no to every question then you do not need planning permission.

This all sounds very simple, which of course it almost is!  However, in practice we have found that it is taking a while for the planning officers on the ground to fully get to grips with some of these changes.  In certain instances there are situations where different sources of planning guidance are giving contradictory advice, or other instances where language is simply ambiguous.

What should be commended, however, is the conscious effort to make the planning process more transparent and accessible.  Central to this is the new and improved planning portal website – www.planningportal.gov.uk.  Within the ‘general public’ section of the site are some very good semi-interactive, visual guides to what will and will not require planning permission.  You can even view the blog of the Director of the Planning Portal, and make your own comments and suggestions – http://portaldirector.wordpress.com/.

As part of our daily duties we use the planning portal website to submit our applications on line.  This is something which greatly improves the process for us. It’s still a bit hit and miss with the Local Authorities websites.  Once an application is submitted online, it is transferred to the website of the specific Local Authority.  Some of these are better than others at maintaining the online process, which should involve having all of the related documents available online – sadly this isn’t always the case.

To summarise, it is fair to say that there have been some definite concessions made with regard to what a home owner can do without requiring planning permission.  Combine this with the fact that the costs of employing the services of a builder are cheaper now than they have been for quite some time (there are a lot of builders with time on their hands) then there is no better time to embark upon a building project.

Working for heterarchy – placement students tell it like it is! Episode 1 – Jenni Wellings

By | Architectural / Interior Design, Architecture | No Comments

img_3031Having researched Heterarchy before coming for interview I had learnt that the company directors were Rosemarie Fitton and Anthony Matters, they did furniture and interiors and that was about all I knew!  So as I sat nervously waiting in my car ( having arrived quite alot earlier than needed) I looked up at the old factory building where my interview would be held  and wondered what awaited me inside…

As I entered the main part of the building I was pleasantly surprised, having been greeted by Rosemarie at the main entrance I was then introduced to another member of Heterarchy, Phoebe the cat, an unusual asset to an office you may think.   The atmosphere was calm and my interview felt very relaxed.  Rosemarie talked about projects Heterarchy were currently working on and showed me around the office and workshop.  I went away feeling that this was the job that I wanted and just hoped that they would feel the same.  A few weeks later after talking to other students about their interviews and harrassing my placement tutor everyday to see if she had heard from Heterarchy I got the news I really wanted, I had got the job along with another student, Kelly.   I was surprised but pleased that two of us had got jobs, at least I would know someone on my first day!

I arrived on my first day after just four hours sleep. probably not a good start ( I had arrived back from France the night before as my ferry had been delayed).  I was terrified that I would fall asleep on my first day! But there was no time for that.  As soon as we arrived, Kelly and I began work on our first project, we were designing a studio for a photographer.  That day we did research and built models along with doing working drawings on Auto CAD.  I got home that night absolutely exhausted but excited about what I would do tommorrow.  That feeling has never left me, everyday we do something new and different whether it is in the office or on site.  Our work varies so much from interior design work  such as 3d modeling and Autocad to practical work including decorating and surveying, things I never imagined I would do on placement but have really enjoyed and learnt from.

Being part of a small company has been a real opportunity and I feel that there  are many things that I have learnt here that I may not have learnt at a bigger corporation such as the everyday runnings of a company from client meetings to market research.  Rosemarie and Tony have been wonderful to work for as they share such an interest in all aspects of interior design.  They have a real interest in their students and are always willing to help with anything we have needed, even offering to give advice on future projects when we have left.  Although I am looking forward to going back to university I have enjoyed my placement so much at Heterarchy that life without it just won’t be the same!