Wandsworth architects | Residential architect projects

At GOAStudio London residential architecture we have extensive experience with working with the Wandsworth planning department and as your Wandsworth residential architect we are familiar with all the relevant planning policies that might apply for your home project.

Please see below links to some of our Wandsworth residential architect projects for ideas and inspiration.

Your brief requirements, the setting of the property, and the immediate context of the property are some of the factors that will determine what home alterations the Wandsworth planners will be prepared to allow.

We will advise you about what is reasonable to expect to get approval, what might be tricky but possible, and what most likely the planners will say no to.

When it comes to extensions and alterations to residential property the Wandsworth planning department have prepared a guide about the key principles that will determine the outcome of your planning application.

All relevant advice exists across a number of policy documents and the most recent advice exists in Wandsworth Local Plan Supplementary Planning Document Housing – Adopted November 2016.

Below we have copied and highlighted extracts of the most relevant current policy and advice to provide you with a summary for your home project.



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Summary planning and design guide | Wandsworth residential architect advice

Residential alterations and extensions

You should note that controls are more restrictive within conservation areas. In order to protect the special character and appearance of those conservation areas that have an over-riding unified character such as Dover House, Latchmere, Shaftesbury Park and Totterdown Fields estates, selected Permitted Development rights (notably works to front facades, roofs and front boundaries) have been withdrawn by an Article 4 Direction.

You will certainly need building regulations approval and the Council’s Building Control Service will tell you what is required. The Building Regulations impose certain structural and other requirements particularly where it comes to access stairs and this may limit what options are available to you. But in meeting these requirements the result may be a conflict with planning objectives concerning the external appearance of the proposed extension. It is important to find out as early as possible, as it may mean you will not easily get planning permission.

In addition to satisfying the relevant criteria of Policies DMS2, DMH2 and DMH4, proposals for extensions and alterations to existing residential properties will be permitted where:

i. an extension is well designed, uses appropriate materials and is not so large that it dominates and competes with the original building;
ii. an extension, dormer window or other alteration to a roof is confined to the rear of the building but where it is visible from the street or any other public place, it is sympathetic to the style of the building, not visually intrusive and does not harm either the street scene or the building’s appearance;
iii. side extensions do not cause a terrace effect by in-filling the spaces between detached or semi-detached buildings;
iv. extensions are not erected in front of houses where they would be visible from the highway;
v. minor modifications to the front elevations such as a small porch, and free-standing structures providing cycle storage take appropriate account of the scale, design and size of the original front garden;
vi. in the case of conversions, refuse storage enclosures and service boxes are sited unobtrusively and do not detract from the appearance of the building or amenity;
vii. rear extensions are subservient to the original house and its setting and are not over-dominant, ensuring that a substantial depth of the original rear garden will remain free of buildings and structures including lightwells, taking account of criteria set out in Policies DMS1 and DMH7;
viii. no buildings or structures are proposed in front gardens, and where lightwells are proposed, at least 50% of the original front garden depth will remain subject in conservation areas to a minimum depth of 2ms of garden usually being retained and to Policy DMTS2b iii;
ix. hardstandings do not dominate the appearance of front gardens or cause harm to the character or appearance of the dwelling or the street. In conservation areas, hardstandings are unlikely to be acceptable in line with the relevant Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Strategies. The policy relating to permeable surfacing of hardstandings is set out in Policy DMS6.

Front extensions – Wandsworth residential architect and planning advice

An extension located at the front of a house invariably has the greatest visual impact. Where buildings are arranged along a clearly established building line or where there is an architectural cohesiveness to the street that would be compromised, an extension at the front of a house is unlikely to be approved. It may be acceptable in some cases to consider the addition of a small porch or similar minor modification at the front of a house. In these cases alterations and additions should be sympathetic in style and materials and you should avoid arbitrary changes to traditional features that might erode a house’s character.

Side extensions – Wandsworth residential architect and planning advice

A single storey extension at the side of a house is a popular way of achieving additional floor space on the ground floor. It will almost certainly be visible from the street so you should take care to ensure it fits in well. A single storey extension should follow the following basic rules:

Set the extension back from the front facade of the house.

Use a pitched roof as this will usually look better than a flat roof.

Use materials to match the main house.

A two storey side extension may be acceptable if it can be designed sympathetically to be subservient to the main house. The biggest issue with two storey side extensions is that they can fill important gaps between houses – the loss of which spoils a particularly attractive arrangement. For example, in a street composed of semi-detached or detached houses the spaces between buildings are very important and infilling to the side with bulky two storey extensions can lead to an undesirable terracing effect. This is especially important in some parts of conservation areas where the character is defined as much by the spaces between the buildings as it is by the buildings themselves. In situations like this two storey extensions at the side of a house may be resisted.

Where a two storey side extension is regarded as appropriate in principle, it should follow the following basic rules:

Set the extension back from the front facade of the house.

Use a pitched roof that has a lower ridge than that on the main roof on the house.

Keep the width sufficiently modest in relation to existing elements of the house to ensure that the extension is subordinate in proportion.

Take care on corners and set well back from the boundary to respect the quality of space.

Use materials to match the house.

Rear extensions – Wandsworth residential architect and planning advice

Extensions at the rear are generally least likely to be seen from any public vantage point but they will be seen by neighbours and will need to be designed with sensitivity to avoid any unreasonable impact on them. Rear extensions should respect the shape and form of the existing house and not be over dominant. When planning a two storey extension it is particularly important to ensure that it will have no harmful impact on your neighbour’s amenities.

A large extension may cause your neighbour a loss of outlook, daylight or it may have an overbearing effect on their property. This is especially a problem for a neighbour who is on the north side of the proposed extension because this is where the impact on sunlight and daylight is likely to be greatest. Ideally a two storey extension should be sited away from the neighbour’s boundary.

Roof extensions – Wandsworth residential architect and planning advice

Roof forms vary and some loft spaces are more suited to conversion than others in terms of size, shape and construction.

Stand in your loft and see if there is enough space for a room just as it is. Remember also that the headroom now would be reduced when the loft floor is strengthened.

Ideally, your existing loft should be large enough to accommodate the room(s) you want without any need for major extensions. All you should then need are dormer windows – i.e. vertical windows inserted in a structure protruding from the roof slope – or even just a roof-light.

More often though, roofs are extended to create headroom where none exists at present. Generally there is no minimum ceiling height requirement in the Building Regulations, but a ceiling lower than 2.1m (7’0”) will seem cramped. Remember also that a new structural floor and roof will have to be built and this means that the finished headroom will be about 300mm (1’0”) less than the headroom you have in your loft at present. To achieve a reasonable amount of space with adequate headroom may mean major alterations to the loft, which could alter the look of your house quite dramatically. This could mean that the scheme would be ruled out because of its poor appearance.
If you have a modern house with a trussed roof construction it may be possible to convert the loft space but you may find that it will be a complicated and expensive job.

The existing roofs of ‘back additions’ will invariably be incapable of adaptation due to the low pitch in which case a substantial extension will be required to create a viable space. The ‘London’ or ‘Butterfly’ Roof is similarly also incapable of adaptation. Any scheme in these locations will effectively involve the construction of an entirely new roof. There is specific advice on each of these types of alteration later in this guidance.

The most common design problem is the need to extend the roof to accommodate the new access staircase and meet the Building Regulations requirement for headroom over the stairs. The general requirement for headroom over staircases is 2.00m. This can be reduced to a minimum 1.90m on the centre-line of the flight at pinch points, and in this case the headroom on one side must be 2.00m and on the other not less than 1.80m.

In the case of many semi-detached and terraced houses the existing stairs are located beside a party wall (this is the wall dividing one house from another). This means that the most efficient and logical location for the new stair into the loft is also against the party wall i.e. directly above the lower staircase. Since the new stair rises into a part of the loft near the eaves, there will be insufficient headroom and it may well be necessary to provide an extension to the roof right against the party wall. In the case of a mid-terraced house where the roof cannot be clearly seen from the street this is not usually a problem. However, if the roof can be seen from the street this is something we try to avoid because the extension would almost certainly look bulky and out of proportion to the roof. This may mean that it is not possible to design a satisfactory roof extension.

It is important to carry out thorough calculations with regard to room heights and the angle of roof slopes at the start of the design process. As built, any extension must correspond exactly with that which received planning permission otherwise you may be liable to enforcement action by the Planning Service.

Proper Mansard and Mansard Style Roofs

Very few buildings in the borough were originally built with mansard roofs. The true mansard has a steep lower slope and a less steep upper slope, whereas most so-called mansards today incorporate only a very steep single slope with a large flat roof on top. The addition of a mansard can be a highly intrusive roof alteration. It is unlikely that the addition of mansard roofs will be considered as an acceptable alteration to roofs, which are visible from public areas within conservation areas.

However, mansard style additions (i.e. one steep pitch with a flat roof over) to the rear roof slope of mid-terraced houses where the roofs are subdivided by party walls are usually acceptable where these cannot be clearly seen from the street.

However, for houses at the end of a terrace and on a corner, the rear mansard style addition should be avoided. This type of change would result in an unsightly alteration to the shape of the gable end that would be clearly visible from the street and so harm the appearance of the conservation area. In these situations a well proportioned and traditionally detailed dormer on the rear roof slope, that is set in from the edge of the roof and preserves the shape of the gable end, would be more appropriate.

GOAStudio London residential architecture and interior design is an award-winning practice, specialising in architectural services for residential projects across London.

As your local residential architect our team aims to provide a friendly and professional service for your home project.

Our approach is based on carefully considering the particular aspects of each scheme before coming up with a creative way for you to instil your unique stamp on what we do and how we do it. 

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architects Registration Board (ARB).

Appoint us for Wandsworth residential architect projects in the following areas:

SW8 Nine Elms
SW11 Battersea, Clapham Junction
SW15 Putney, Putney Heath, Putney Vale, Roehampton
Streatham Park
SW17 Furzertown, Tooting
SW18 Earlsfield, Wandsworth
SW19 Putney Vale, Southfields

 Wandsworth residential architect projects

For more information about the Wandsworth planning department, policies and requirements please click the link above to be re-directed to Wandsworth council website.

Name and origin

Wandsworth takes its name from the River Wandle, which remains one of the delights of the borough. The Wandle got its name from an Anglo Saxon called Waendel, who owned land round here. [Londonist.com]

Wandsworth planning department

You will probably need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your home – e.g. building an extension, or change the use of your property. There are different rules depending on what you want to do and the relevant planning policy that applies to your property. At GOAStudio we have a proud record of dealing with the local authority planners and building control inspectors and we are on hand to assist with your application and successfully handle every stage of your project.

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We are creative problem solvers who will deal with any construction, planning, and design issue relevant to your home project.

GOAStudio London residential architecture limited, 86-90 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE, Hackney

GOAStudio London residential architecture limited, Chestnut Avenue South, E17 9EJ, Waltham Forest

t: 0203 984 3005
e: george@goastudio.co.uk
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