Peak District eco–house wins planning approval

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Designs for an earth-sheltered house and an eco-house have won approval from Peak District National Park planning committee.

The earth house is proposed for a site currently occupied by an old dilapidated timber-clad bungalow at Highcliffe, Eyam.

The new scheme is for a contemporary designed three-bedroom house, incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows at the front, and natural stone panels and windows on one side, with a turfed flat roof. The other side and rear would be dug into the hillside or covered with earth banking, and the house would be highly energy-efficient.

Planners insisted on conditions to protect existing trees and hedges, and to ensure that its roll-down window shutters were as unobtrusive as possible.

Cllr Lesley Roberts, who chairs the planning committee, commented: “We’re often castigated for being inflexible and wanting ‘to preserve the national park in aspic.’ But we do treat each individual case on its merits.

“This is a comparatively isolated and well-screened site, where the current building looks like an old scout hut and detracts from the character of the national park. On this particular site we think it appropriate to support this imaginative and unique earth-sheltered design which I believe will be sympathetic to its setting.”

At the same meeting, plans for a highly energy-efficient new three-bedroomed house on the site of a long-disused bungalow in Castleton Road, Hope, were also given approval.

The applicant, Mr Richard Carter, told the committee that he had spent several years researching energy efficiency measures before opting for this ‘Passivhaus’ design. It incorporates super-insulation, triple glazing, air-tight construction and a heat recovery ventilation system. As a result energy is retained and recirculated, reducing total energy bills to a fraction of the average similar-sized house.

Although the house and its detached garage would be bigger than the existing buildings, the planning committee agreed they would be proportionate in these surroundings. They were also assured that neighbours’ objections to being overlooked from a side window could be overcome with frosted glass.