Category Archives: Planning

Why would I need a bat survey?

Did you know that the UK has 18 known species of bat and that they are a protected throughout Great Britain and Europe?   The UK Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and EU Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 lists protected bats among other fauna and flora.   It is, therefore, a criminal offense to harm or disturb bats or their habitat.   Natural England and The Bat Conservation Trust provide support, guidance and licensing towards their protection.

National and local planning policy include guidance towards the protection and enhancement of all biodiversity.   Town planners are required to consider any legally protected species as a material consideration when assessing development proposal that may harm a protected species or its habitat.

Professional ecologists can be employed to help develop design proposals for the built environment and are able to provide the necessary support for planning applications through survey and mitigation.

Proper assessment of existing buildings and other potential habitats for bats is crucial in design development prior to submitting a planning application.   For bats, initial assessment can take place at any time of the year.   A trained ecologist will look for key signs of bat habitation in a building, such as tile hanging, loose leadwork and flashings (particularly around chimneys), small cracks & openings and not to mention bat droppings.   However, if bats are found to use existing buildings, further survey work is required to detect their emergence and activity in and around a building.   These emergence surveys can only take place when bats are out of hibernation and flying around; between May – September only.

Certain species of bats also live in trees and the cutting down of a tree could be causing harm to a bats habitat or the bat itself.   Whilst arboricultural work is not directly policed in regard to bat protection, seeking ecological advice before removing a tree may be prudent and considerate.

The presence of bats within an existing building is by no means a show stopper to development.   With the right professional support of an ecologist the design can be taken forward coupled with appropriate mitigation, through the introduction of suitable bat habitation devices and details.   This information will be produced by the ecologist and submitted as a mitigation report with any planning application.   This mitigation report is also utilised to obtain a licence from Natural England enabling controlled works towards the completion of the proposed development with the protection of the bats in mind.

Early assessment will have significant benefits to a development project as it will enable the right ecology work to be carried out at the right time and it will allow the design to be taken in the right direction.   As architects we have a duty of care to advise our clients appropriately and to be aware of the basic principles in bat habitation potential.   With careful design and collaboration with a professional ecologist bat mitigation can be incorporated into beautiful design without being obvious.   The cladding on our Curvey Oak project has bat boxes and roosts designed into the elevation seamlessly … can you spot them?



Advice to graduating architecture students

graduation 2

Everyone is free (to practice architecture)

“Architecture students of 2015: Continue sketching

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sketching would be it.

The long terms benefits of sketching have been proven by architects, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own architectural experience …

I will present this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your architecture; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your architecture until you’ve been in practice.   But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at your dissertation and recall in a way you can’t juxtapose now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous your theories really were …

You’re not as dull as you imagine.

Don’t worry about planning permission; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as submitting a planning application without drawing elevations.   The real troubles with your planning application are being considered by a planning officer who has no understanding of what good design is or whether it looks any different at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Design one thing everyday that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other architect’s designs.   Don’t put up with architects that are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time forever designing;   sometimes your design is great, sometimes it is not.   Practising as an architect is long and in the end, who knows if you’ll be a ‘STarchitect’.

Remember the awards you receive, forget the criticism.   If you succeed in doing this tell me how.

Keep your old drawings.   Throw away your student loan statements.

Self crit.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what sector you want to work in.   The most interesting architects I know didn’t know at 22 what sector they wanted to work in.   Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of CPD.

Be kind to your pens, you’ll miss them when they are gone.

Maybe you’ll practice, maybe you won’t.   Maybe you’ll have LLP, maybe you won’t.   Maybe you’ll be sued at 40, maybe you’ll dance at the architect’s ball after graduation day.   Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either.

Your awards are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your designs.   Use them every way you can.   Don’t be afraid of them or what other people think of them.   They are the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Paint, even if you keep the canvases for yourself.

Read the building contracts, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not look up the young architect of the year nominations, they will only make you feel unable to design.

Get to know your clients.   You never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your contemporaries; they’re your best link to your past and most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that clients come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to design the spaces between buildings because the more you practice the more important it will seem than before you were qualified.

Visit New York City once, but leave before it makes you modern.   Visit Florence once, but leave before it makes you classical.


Accept certain inalienable truths: fees will rise, planners will miss good design, you too will get old.   And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you qualified; wages were reasonable, planners were helpful and staff respected their mentors.

Respect your mentors.

Don’t expect anyone else to like your designs.   Maybe you’ll win an award, maybe you’ll have a successful partnership.   But you never know when one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your designs or by the time you submit it will look in keeping.

Be careful whose architecture you support, but be patient with those who design it.   Architecture is a form of history.   Designing is a way of flicking through a Banister Fletcher, picking out a few pages, tearing out the bad design and re-modelling the good like it was your own.

But trust me on the sketching.”


An adaptation of Baz Lurhmann’s sunscreen song: Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen)


Do I need Planning and is Building Regulations the same thing?

Believe it or not, I get asked this very question every once in a while. To those in the know the answer is simple but for those that are embarking on their first development it can be confusing.

In a nut shell; these are two different departments with two different applications each requiring different information. Chances are you will need them both.

Sometimes your development will fit into what is called Permitted Development, which is a whole other blog. This is when planning permission is not required. And if this is the case you can skip to the second part of the question; building regulations.

Building regulations is often inevitable. This is a set of minimum standards developed by the government to ensure buildings are safe, warm and suitable for all, plus a few environmental things thrown in to boot. With the right details and specifications, this statutory application process is always approved.

Planning permission, on the other hand, is a consideration of the development in relation to its surroundings and setting. Here appearance matters rather than construction method. Sometimes this application can be refused for reasons that sometimes do not seem fair.

Both applications can be submitted by individuals, lay people if you will, or they can be supported and delivered by an agent; an architect, perhaps. The benefit of using an agent is their experience and education on each subject. An architect can certainly bring value to a project in this regard with sound advice and strong justification.

So, if in doubt about planning or building regulations, the best thing to do is speak to an architect. Not only could they procure both applications on for you, they may even make the process easier and much less stressful for you.

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5 good reasons to employ an architect

Why would you employ an architect?
An architect is a building designer. They train for 7 years (as much as a doctor) to understand design within the built environment. They are skilled in many areas including; building design, planning policy, building regulations, building contracts and construction law to name a few. With such a high skill base why would you employ any other professional to design your building? Here are five very good reasons to employ an architect on your next building project:

1. Creativity. An architect sees opportunities that can improve your property both financially and through quality of space. They are problem solvers, trained to find solutions. Architects look at the bigger picture and design space specifically to your needs.

2. An architect can handle the paperwork on your behalf to save you having to negotiate the planning maze or try to understand the building regulations. They can also advise you on any other professionals you may need for your project.

3. Architects are trained professionals governed by a code of conduct. Every architect is registered with the ARB (architects registration board). Some are also members of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects). Both organisations have a code of conduct for members to abide by. These codes are created to protect you as the customer and ensure you get the highest quality service from your architect.

4. Architects can support you while your project is being built. They can act on your behalf with great construction knowledge to ensure quality is being delivered by the builder too. They can provide routine valuation certificates (sometimes with the aid of a Quantity Surveyor) to ensure you are not over paying for the work completed on site.

5. An architect will consider the design quality of a space through a number of factors; how the space is intended to be used, site constraints, planning policy, best construction practice, what materials would be best to use and how to control costs.

Bizzy Blue Design Ltd is an RIBA Chartered Architects practice. It provides the highest level of design and architect’s services to its clients. Working primarily in the residential sector they also support commercial projects and historic & listed buildings. The personal one to one service brings a tailored service to each individual client maximising the potential of their project.

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Will the new Permitted Development rules benefit you?

After much deliberation the government has finally released the ‘revised’ permitted development rules.   As part of a scheme to induce economic recovery they believe that allowing larger domestic extensions under permitted development, among other sector changes, will help boost the UK economy.   Let’s have a look at what the changes are and how they will affect domestic extensions:

The changes to Permitted Development come into force from 30 May 2013 and will remain in place for three years.   After this time it is assumed that these new rules will expire and the policies will revert to the original format, which can be found at this link.

The principle change for domestic extensions will be the length of permitted extensions.   The original policies allow detached houses to extend by 4m, subject to other policies, without the need for planning permission and all other dwelling types by 3m.   The new rules will now allow 8m for detached houses and 6m in all other cases.

One policy that seems to be unspoken, however, is the width of those extensions.   The original policy wording discusses extensions being less than half the width of the original house to be classified as permitted and it has to be assumed that the same principle will apply with the new rules.   That could make for one long thin extension on the back of your house.

Another key factor to be aware of with the new ruling is that these larger home extensions will be required to go through what is called a Neighbour Consultation Scheme.   This is in the form of a submission to the local authority where they will inform all neighbours of your proposal allowing them to object if they feel it is necessary.   The local authority will then decide whether any objections are reasonable, probably based upon current planning policy guidelines, and refuse the proposed scheme if deemed detrimental to neighbouring amenity.

It is important to fully understand the full guidance of permitted development before ploughing ahead with a new 6 or 8 metre extension as there are many other policies that may apply.   It does seem clear that this new ruling will only apply to single storey extensions, which does keep it reasonably simple.   Another consideration is that your extension will require building regulations consent irrespective of permitted development or planning approval.

So does this change in permitted development have the power to aid our slow recovering economy?   Time will tell, though one question might be; does making larger extensions possible under permitted development make them any more affordable?

If you would like more guidance or advice on an extension to your home please contact Bizzy Blue Design who are fully qualified to take you through any of the processes mentioned in this blog.

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