Replacement Dwellings

Some home owners may prefer to replace their existing property rather than extend it. If so, they should follow the general principles for all development, usually set in the local Authority’s Local Plan Policy. However, much of the guidance for extensions set out above will also be relevant for the design of replacement building, e.g. avoiding overlooking, loss of light and respecting established patterns of development.

Location, location, location

In practice it has been found that many replacement dwellings are often either in urban or suburban locations, where buildings are often quite close together, or within a well-defined street setting. In this situation it is important to observe the local area character and establish main principles for designing the replacement house. This is usually required as part of the Design and Access Statement accompanying the planning application, to justify the development.

Where to begin

Urban Character Studies, Conservation Area Appraisals and Village Design Statements all provide a useful starting point for this process.  The Design and Access Statement should demonstrate how the new proposals fit in with them. Village or Town Design Statements [VDS] are a practical and useful tool to  influencing decisions on design and development.  A clear statement of the character of a particular village or town may be essential to enable your planning application to be assessed.

If no formal character appraisal already exists, you will need to provide a detailed character assessment.

Creating a successful development

The success of any development will relate not only to whether the replacement building appears similar to other designs in the area, but to more generic considerations like issues building height, scale, and siting.  The building to plot ratio for the area should also be assessed and the new building shown to follow this, so as to ensure that the overall appearance is harmonious with other local development.

Harmonisation of the new building with others within the area is often an important consideration.

In just the same way as for a property extension, the impact of replacement buildings on closely adjoining properties is an essential consideration, especially with regard to daylight and privacy,

Building in the Countryside

All such issues are equally applicable to replacement buildings in the countryside, This is especially so where they are tom be located within a group of buildings.

However, in the countryside such development will generally need to be on “a one-for-one replacement” basis, with the building to be replaced having been in continuous occupation and not the result of a temporary or series of temporary permissions.  Many councils are also now extending this to require that the building to be replaced is not derelict, or no longer in existence, unless accidentally destroyed, as in the case of fire.

In general, many local planning authorities require that replacement dwellings do not “significantly change the siting, scale, setting and character of the existing dwelling”  The reason often given for this is to protect an area’s  (rural) character and keep a range of different house sizes in the countryside, providing for a range of housing needs.”


These provisions may be different for isolated country locations, as distinct from sub/urban areas. Although the need to fit in with immediately adjoining buildings may be less of a requirement, the building style in the wider area, the type of materials to be used, and the scale of development will still apply. Any proposed departure from this is likely to need special justification in the Design and Access Statement.

You will also need to show how the replacement building fits with the wider landscape.  

Although small houses in the country may not impose much visually on their surroundings and rural character, replacing them with significantly larger – even grandiose properties – may do so significantly.  Consequently, most applications for buildings significantly larger than that which they are replacing are generally only permitted in exceptional circumstances and where fully justified.

How big?

If you want to make your replacement building 50% or more larger, then you may also need to submit a Landscape Impact Assessment, taking into account the  immediate surrounding views and more distant views of the site. This will need to note different landscape changes during different seasons.

Such further justifications may also be required if the site is particularly prominent, even if it is to be less than 50% larger.

Landscape Impact Assessments

To follow best practice, such Landscape Impact Assessment should follow the recommendations in ‘Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment’ (SPON 2002) and ‘Landscape Character Assessment: Guidance for England and Scotland ‘ (The Countryside Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage 2002)

The siting of a replacement building should not be significantly different from that of the original building. If you can prove that a clear environmental benefit will result, then you may be able to consider resiting; this should be done via the Design and Access Statement, unless your proposal will be more prominent, in which case it should be via the Landscape Impact Assessment.  Such environmental benefits for the wider area must be made clear, and not merely be your own aspirations, e.g. to obtain a better view.

Justifying ‘Minimal Impact’

You MUST justify all aspects of your proposal to replace a dwellings, since even a schemes details can significantly impact on the broader landscape.  For instance, the number and arrangement of the windows and the use of materials like render may make the new building more prominent from a distance.

Likewise, the layout of your garden, drive, or boundary treatment could be out of sympathy with the surrounding landscape. Generally, extending or rearranging the boundaries to accommodate a replacement will not be approved. Such changes may suggest the proposal as being too large for the plot.

Contact us about how our professional town and country planning service can help Click here to submit your enquiry online, or Call +44 01291 437050
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