Posts Tagged ‘planning’

Planning approval |Modern House Dunfanaghy, Donegal

Irish Architects Slemish Design Studio have recently received planning approval for a modern house in dunfanaghy, County Donegal.

dunfanaghy donegal selfbuild

Sited outside the village of Dunfanaghy, our recent approval has views to Muckish Moutain along with views towards Horn Head and Sheephaven Bay

Materials used for this modern house will be in keeping with the Donegal planning coco & blending into the local countryside with natural materials, such as Natural Donegal Stone, white rendered walls with a slate roof, we have also brought zinc standing seam into the materials to add a more contemporary look to one part of the house

materials for dunfanaghy house

we’re looking forward to this going onsite.. .if nothing more than to have an excuse to head back to Dunfanaghy 🙂

Should you have a project you’d like to discuss, feel free to get in touch. We cover all over Ireland & UK

Replacement Dwelling in Northern Ireland CTY3

Replacement Dwellings and Planning issues

Replacement dwellings in Northern Ireland – As part of the general approach to sustainability running through PPS 21 the policy places a strong emphasis on the opportunities to re-use and develop the existing rural settlement pattern through a sensitive policy for replacement dwellings. Policy CTY3 sets out the criteria against which proposals will be assessed and it contains specific safeguards for the integration and retention of non listed vernacular buildings that are considered to be important to retain because of the contribution they make to the character and appearance of our local rural landscapes.

replacement dwelling to a house northern ireland
replacement dwelling for a 2 room house at slieve gullion newry, northern ireland

Basic Rules for Replacement Projects

  • The replacement dwelling should generally be placed as close as possible to the footprint of the original house, unless significant benefits are apparent in terms of visual and functional integration.
  • The replacement dwelling should be of a form and scale that integrates well with the characteristics of the site. Replacement dwellings should not be of an excessive size in comparison to the original building or be located a significant distance away from the original footprint unless there are clear and evident benefits.
  • The proposal takes full advantage of the retention of established and mature landscape and boundary features and retains the discreet character of existing access points.
  • Use is made of recycled building materials in the new proposal

Planning permission will be granted for a replacement dwelling where the building to be replaced exhibits the essential characteristics of a dwelling and as a minimum, all external structural walls are substantially intact. For the purposes of this policy, all references to ‘dwellings’ will include buildings previously used as dwellings.

Buildings designed and used for agricultural purposes, such as sheds or stores, and buildings of a temporary construction will not, however, be eligible for replacement under this policy.

Favourable consideration will, however, be given to the replacement of a redundant non-residential building with a single dwelling, where the redevelopment proposed would bring significant environmental benefits and provided the building is not listed or otherwise makes an important contribution to the heritage, appearance or character of the locality.

In cases where a dwelling has recently been destroyed, for example, through an accident or a fire, planning permission may be granted for a replacement dwelling. Evidence about the status and previous condition of the building and the cause and extent of the damage must be provided.

Non-listed Vernacular Dwellings

The retention and sympathetic refurbishment, with adaptation if necessary, of non-listed vernacular dwellings in the countryside will be encouraged in preference to their replacement. Proposals involving the replacement of such dwellings will be assessed as follows:

• if the dwelling makes an important contribution to the heritage, appearance or character of the locality planning permission will only be granted where it is demonstrated that it is not reasonably capable of being made structurally sound or otherwise improved.

• if the dwelling does not make an important contribution to the heritage, appearance or character of the locality, planning permission will be granted for a new dwelling. In such cases the retention of the existing structure will be accepted where it is sympathetically incorporated into the layout of the overall development scheme, for example as ancillary accommodation or a store, to form an integrated building group.

In cases where the original building is retained, it will not be eligible for replacement again. Equally, this policy will not apply to buildings where planning permission has previously been granted for a replacement dwelling and a condition has been imposed restricting the future use of the original building, or where the building is immune from enforcement action as a result of non-compliance with a condition to demolish.

Refer to Planning Departments design Guide to accompany PPS21

Should you have any queries about planning in Northern Ireland, please feel free to get in touch with our office.

modern house in straffan approved

We’ve recently have gained planning approval from Kildare County Council for our modern house in Straffan.

this house will be built to passive house standards & will include timber cladding & zinc roofs.
keep in touch to see more updates as we go to site.

if you’ve a project you’d like to discuss, feel free to get in contact with ourselves “click here”


modern house straffan kildare architects

How to Find the Perfect Plot

How to Find the Perfect Plot for your self-build

For many, finding the perfect plot of land is the start of the home building process but it can be a daunting task for first-timers and those of us who are inexperienced.  In reality, there are plenty of people out there ready to help and guide you through the process and the “perfect plot” is determined by only a few key factors.  Over the years we’ve worked on loads of different projects on various plots of land so we thought we’d collect together some of the key points that, in our opinion, make the perfect self-build plot.

modern house on building site


Set Your Budget

The first stage in the process, as with almost every aspect of building your own home, is to determine your budget. There are various rules of thumb to follow but for most self-build projects the plot of land will command between 20-40% of your total budget. This might seem like a substantial amount but, as we regularly hear from property experts, location is very important and plot prices will vary considerably depending on where in the world (or Northern Ireland if you’re a local reader…) you want to buy and build!


Talk to the Experts

We would recommend talking to experts regardless of your experience but if you’re a first-time buyer (and self-builder) then we would consider this an essential part of the process.  Who are these experts? They could be estate agents, architects like us, solicitors, builders or developers. Each profession will have their own thoughts and opinions on what makes the perfect plot of land so talking to as many people as possible will give you a clearer, fuller picture of what exactly you should be looking for.

traditional cottage being built outside ballymena


Analyse the Area

This is where most people actually begin the perfect plot process.  As mentioned above, location is extremely important and impacts everything from your own happiness in your new home to the property value, should you ever want to sell in the future. Analysing what you can get, and where, will help you hone in on the perfect plot. Analysis of the surrounding area will also help shape your future project plans alongside your chosen architect. Surrounding buildings, or lack thereof, will most likely impact the design and style of your new home.
As a result of these impacts, you should carefully study your new potential neighbourhood and consider whether or not your self-build project will work there.

How to Find the Perfect Plot


Identify Vehicle and Services Access

Another major factor in determining the perfect plot is to identify vehicle access via main roads and access to key services like water, gas and electric.  Without proper vehicle access, the plot is unlikely to get planning permission, if it hasn’t already, as builders won’t have the access they need to carry out their work.  Similarly, if the plot doesn’t have proper access to the services and amenities mentioned above you will have to budget for these features to be installed and connected to your future home.  Awareness is key here. Identify exactly what the property needs or already has and then make an informed decision from there.


Identify Planning Permissions

Planning permission is a serious issue and we would highly recommend that you never purchase a plot of land under the assumption that planning permission will be granted. There are so many factors at play when undertaking your own self-build project that you should treat planning permission like a “black or white” issue. The plot of land in question either has planning permission or it hasn’t and if it hasn’t then we recommend waiting until everything is officially signed off or moving on to the next plot of land on your list.


Make Your Move

 After everything has been thoroughly considered it’s time to make your move.  It might seem strange, especially if you’re a first-time self-builder, to commit such a large amount of money to a plot of land and nothing else but this is the first stage of the self-build process. Talk to the experts in your world, make sure the plot ticks as many boxes as possible and then go for it. After that, you can look forward to the design process and eventually be laying those first foundations.


If you have any more questions about finding the perfect plot we’d be happy to give our thoughts and make it as specific to your situation as possible. Just contact us here or on our facebook page 

Things to Consider Before Building an Extension

extension & renovation of existing 300yr old house outside crossmaglen, county armagh

With the New Year just past, you might be considering building an extension onto your current home.

Extensions can be wonderful additions to houses bringing new light and space, new rooms to explore and help improve energy efficiency. However, before the excitement starts take a step back and consider the project from start to finish.
In our experience building an extension can be just as challenging as any new build but hopefully, we can guide you through some of the finer details.

Before working on any extension project we always ask the party involved why they want to build.
To ensure the best result you need to hone in on exactly why you’re setting out on such a large project. Do you want to increase the value of the property? Or maybe you want to improve energy efficiency or living conditions?
Defining why will always lead to a better end result.

Modern Timber Clad Extension Architects Ballymena

timber clad extension to a semi-detached house – to act as an extension of the house & garden

This leads us nicely onto deciding on your aesthetic and physical goals for the project.
The most common requests are for the creation of more light and/or space. This could be due to changes in the environment around you (i.e. more buildings) or the growth of your family.
Alternatively, you might be happy with the space on offer but simply require the layout of your house to be reshaped in a way you’re now more comfortable with.
Extensions aren’t usually just about more space, so figure out what your goal is.

Planning Permission
With your goal, firmly set planning permission may be required and if this is the case it should be your first practical port of call when beginning to move forward with your new plans.
Here in Northern Ireland eleven local councils and the Department of Infrastructure handle the responsibility of planning equally. More information can be found at but please be aware of the possible scale of fees involved.

No matter how awkward you think a chat with your neighbours could be, it’s almost always a good idea before you begin any form of extension project.
Common neighbour concerns usually revolve around the existence of a shared wall, the potential loss of natural light or the potential to overshadow their property, specifically their garden. We recommend you keep anyone potentially affected up-to-date with the project to avoid any trouble.

Whether it’s your primary reason for the project or not, building an extension is a great opportunity to improve the sustainability and energy performance of your home. Depending on the current performance of your property, this can be improved with the help of experienced builders and architects through the implementation of properly insulated walls, double glazed windows and in some cases solar panels.

Architect Involvement
Not everyone plans to use an architect when undertaking an extension project and in many cases, this is perfectly acceptable. However, if you’re inexperienced, don’t have a trusted working relationship with your builder, or require planning permission, we would highly recommend getting in touch with us.  Not only we handle and advise on everything already mentioned, we will also view the project in a holistic manner from start to finish and be able to recommend on both big and small details.

Duration / Time Scale
Finally, extensions are serious projects and this is generally reflected in the duration or time frame involved.
Coming from Northern Ireland, or realistically anywhere in the UK or Ireland, weather should obviously play an important factor in your thinking and ideally, you should plan around the seasons. Take advantage of the darker, wetter seasons to design and plan before scheduling building to commence when spring and summer arrive.


As with everything we’re more than happy to answer questions, offer advice and steer you in the right direction so don’t be afraid to get in touch even if you’re not sure where to start.


Raceview Mill Project

Raceview Mill enterprise units, Broughshane, Ballymena

Conceptual 3D visuals of what the enterprise units will look like at Raceview Mill, Broughshane.
Slemish Design Studio Architects are working along with Ross Planning, planning consultants and our clients Raceview Mill Ltd.
Our plan is to create a spectacular mixed-use development that will draw tourists to the village of Broughshane.

The first phase is to build a new workspace for local enterprises. These will be designed in a similar style to the other mill buildings.  These could be opened in February 2104 and leased from £35 a week.
Other options are that he old mill buildings could be used for storage for the units and arts and crafts area.
A later phase hopes to see the creation of boutique hotel rooms; these will overlook the Braid River and the transformation of the main building in to a restaurant, remodelling the old water tower in to a glass tower with views of Slemish.

All further information can be found at the our clients Facebook page



raceview mill enterprise units


raceview mill enterprise units


raceview mill enterprise units


check out our social media pages for more information

raceview mill enterprise units raceview mill enterprise units raceview mill enterprise units raceview mill enterprise units raceview mill enterprise units raceview mill enterprise units


Ballymena Chamber of Commerce welcomes Slemish Design Studio architects

Ballymena architects slemish design studio join ballymena chamber of commerce and industry

Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a welcome meeting for new members in the Adair Arms last week.
In the last few months Chamber has recruited 14 new members.
Chamber President Thomas McKillen welcomed the new members, saying: “It is great to see so many new members here this morning. New members are the lifeblood of any organisation.
“There is a wealth of experience and knowledge in this Chamber and I hope you find membership to be both enjoyable and beneficial.”
The new members then introduced themselves and Thomas presented them with their membership certificates.
Unfortunately we couldn’t attend due to having site meetings that morning, but Chris Wales from the Chamber came out to our offices on the Woodside Road, to Ballymena architects, Slemish Design Studio us with their certificate.
We’re now listed in the Chamber as Architects & Planning Consultants, so should you need any advice on either, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Ballymena Architects Slemish Design studio

Steven Bell, Joe Magill (Slemish Design Studio), Chris Wales (Chamber of Commerce)

Click here for more information on the Ballymena Chamber

Portstewart eyesore no more – Attwood

this planning “law” could affect a lot more sites!!

The site of the former Strand Hotel, for many years an eyesore blighting Portstewart, has been demolished.Demolition of the site, which was abandoned over a decade ago, came about through Minister Attwood acting to ensure that a Completion Notice, a power held by DOE Planning, was served.

Alex Attwood explained: “After fourteen years, the Strand Road Hotel eyesore is no more. Some months ago my planners served, for the first time ever, a Completion Notice on the developer of the site, abandoned over a decade ago. This site was a blight overlooking Porstewart’s majestic beach. The situation was intolerable.

“The Completion Notice was served because the developer had ignored requests to clear and clean the site when £400,000 was spent on dereliction this time last year, in the run down to the Irish Open in Portrush and Portstewart. The developer did not budge. That is why I acted. The Completion Notice requires construction to be completed or planning permission would be revoked, which in one move would collapse the value of the site.

“The developer appealed the notice and a hearing on the Completion Notice is before the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) next week, on 8 May. In recent weeks however, my planners have been contacted – not by the developer – to move the situation on. I made it clear through my planners that the buildings must be demolished to foundation level and the site cleared and landscaped. I acknowledge that those who contacted my planners have now acted and the site is being cleared. 

“The location is one of the most wonderful on the North Coast, damaged by this eyesore. As we come into the summer, this will now look different and better. I want to acknowledge the representatives and residents who long campaigned for action.

“I will now look to see whether the same approach (of serving Completion Notices) can be deployed on other problem sites. In addition, next week, I am holding a summit for Councils – so that all Councils do what Belfast City Council does, deploy their substantive enforcement powers against eyesore sites. Good enforcement is the flip side of good planning. Today is an example of that.”

information taken from Planning NI website

image property of BBC

Planning Bill speeds up planning reforms

The Planning Bill was introduced to the NI Assembly on 14 January 2013. The Bill aims to speed up reforms and modernise the planning system before the intended transfer of the majority of planning powers to local government in 2015.

The primary objective of the Bill is to accelerate the implementation of a number of reforms contained within the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. The Bill also introduces additional provisions to underpin the role of planning in promoting economic development.

The reforms in the 2011 Act are critical to improving the planning system. The Bill will allow the reforms to be in place sooner and will provide an opportunity for the Department to test them before planning powers transfer.  It also paves the way for the transfer of a planning system which councils, planners, developers and the public are already using and which they know and understand.

The Bill is intended as an interim measure most of which will remain in place only until it is possible to fully commence the 2011 Act at which point it will be repealed.

Key provisions in the Bill aim to deliver:

–   Measures to strengthen the planning system in promoting economic development;
–   Measures to further sustainable development and enhance the environment;
–   Faster processing of planning applications;
–   Faster and fairer planning appeals system;
–   Enhanced community involvement; and
–   Simpler and tougher enforcement.


information taken from Planning NI website

Attwood’s proposals to ease planning rules for farmers

Environment Minister Alex Attwood today proposed easing of planning rules for farmers.

Farmers will be able to undertake new build or extend agricultural buildings including sheds for hay and straw, storage and maintenance of agricultural machinery and plant, milking parlours, slurry storage tanks and chicken and other livestock sheds without having to go through the planning application process. This would mean farmers could construct buildings up to 500 square metres without the need for a planning application (the equivalent of over 5,000 square feet). At present they can erect up to 300 square metres without the need for a planning application.

Commenting on the consultation Alex Attwood said: “The agriculture industry represents a vital part of the economy. These proposals, which are the most generous in these islands, will eliminate unnecessary red tape to enable agriculture to grow in a challenging economic climate. I want to help expand our agri- food business by 40% in the next few years. That is what producers tell me they hope to achieve – these changes can help the industry to do so.”

“Increasing the range of agricultural development that no longer needs planning permission will make it easier for farmers to undertake development. But these changes strike an essential balance. They free up farmers to make improvements with safeguards to protect neighbours and ensure that development is of an appropriate scale and character.”

The consultation will also provide for the installation of structures of up to 500m2 to house anaerobic digestion plant on agricultural units. Put simply, anaerobic digestion is a treatment process using, for example, farm crops and animal waste to produce biogas which can be used as a fuel to power and heat the farm.

Following public consultation and the Assembly process it is anticipated that these proposals will become law in Spring 2013.

Alex Attwood continued: “I have said repeatedly that renewable energy and technology is our single biggest economic opportunity. This is why I am working hard to get planning better fit for purpose with more renewable approvals which will help our economy and meet Executive Renewable Energy targets. I want to do what I can to provide farmers and others to seize the benefits of renewable technologies such as anaerobic digesters which can help to make savings and reduce running costs in the longer term.

“The measures proposed today and indeed all of the changes I am making to the planning system are all part of my ongoing commitment to ensure that planning delivers benefits to the economy in an efficient and timely manner whilst protecting our environment. The DOE is leading in protecting the environment and in supporting economic recovery. These proposals demonstrate this.”

The consultation runs until 18th January 2013 and can be accessed at

this information was taken from the following website –

Consultation on Proposed Changes to Planning Fees

more changes to the planning fees!!!!

New and Revised Permitted Development Rights from 19th September 2012

New and Revised Permitted Development Rights from 19th September 2012
should you be thinking on a project and wondering how this will affect you, give us a call