A delicate planning operation delivers a perfect home

JCA Team:

David Rhodes

Project Design Team:

Andrew Waring Associates (Structural Engineer)

IFP Building Services (Services Engineers)

Melissa Wyndham (Interior Designer)

Principal contractor:
R. Moulding & Co (Salisbury) Ltd

Project type:

Refurbishment & Extensions

Project year: 2014
Photographer: William Pearce

Our client bought a 17th Century Grade II listed Dorset house which had been added to over each of the subsequent centuries, creating an interesting but piecemeal structure. It even came equipped with its own mausoleum in the grounds and a crematorium adjacent to the House, which turned out to be one of the very earliest built in the United Kingdom.

While our client had a vision to turn this building into a comfortable seven bedroom family home, gaining planning consent for a scheme that could be approved by the authorities was another matter.

In addition, the River Stour runs within feet of the property and the surrounding land acts as a winter flood plain and so the water table is particularly high, posing a basement flood risk.

Johnston Cave Associate's task was not only to fulfil the client's dream with an attractive and workable scheme, but one that could offer appropriate technical solutions and above all, get planning approval.

The actual planning application was handled very delicately, with several pre-application local authority meetings to get everyone on-side. With initial planning consent granted, JCA took great care to build confidence with the conservation officer through regular updates and the provision of detailed information. This proved to be extremely useful, with the result that the final scope of works became much more encompassing than it originally appeared consent could be obtained for.

JCA obtained consent for the demolition of both early 19th Century and late 20th Century parts of the building to allow a substantial new extension to be built. This was designed to house several of the children's bedrooms, office, utility room and boots hall area, as well as to introduce an additional staircase to integrate the property across its three stories.

The extension was modelled to respond sensitively to the retained fabric, improving upon the legibility of how the House has been altered over the centuries as well as to bring an overall sense of order to the structure.

The new rooms are proportioned generously and carefully finished, with all services completely concealed within the fabric. This ethos continues in the main House, returning the rooms to their proper proportions where once they were sub-divided and damaged by unsightly boxings.

Many lintels throughout the 17th Century part of the property were found to be failing, resulting in picturesque (yet unsafe) slumps in the shapes of window openings. In order to undertake structural repairs to without losing the character of the property, specialist techniques were used and exact templates made, allowing new steel beams to be fabricated to follow the line of the walls and maintain the feel of the historic rooms.

The main entrance hall was transformed from a dark and uninspiring space with a large new window and roof light which now floods light into the hall and makes for a grand entrance. Clever lighting and choice of internal finishes enhance the effect.

The issue of flooding was dealt with by using a de-pressurising membrane to all surfaces in the cellar, with a pair of pumps along with an emergency backup generator to remove incoming groundwater. This is all set behind new plaster finishes, allowing the room to be used safely for dry storage purposes.

Finally a retaining wall adjacent to the River Stour was re-built and landscaping works including a new access drive and parking court were installed and set off buy a pair of splendid new entrance gates and supporting piers beside the separate entrance lodge was altered and extended for live-in staff.

Not only did our happy client have his vision fulfilled, but he now has a fully renovated (using high quality, traditional and conservation materials and methods where appropriate) 21st Century home, fit to be passed down the generations.