OpinioN8

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On July 13th one of our local councillors sent an email to a special address known only to councillors, asking a question about the pavement outside "The Light House" in Fairfield Road. The councillor felt that the pavement needs repair and that the developer should put it right. As it happens neither Highways nor Planning agree with this assertion.

However, a glance at the planning application (which appears to have been agreed by Haringey and not on appeal as stated in the councillor's correspondence) reveals that:

The proposal is to use an extensive ‘green’ roof system which consist of a shallow substrate layer and stress tolerant grasses andmoss. They have the added benefi t of being lightweight and require little to no maintenence, they give excellent foliage colour and texture and are attractive to all kinds of insects and birds.

and

By using off-site forms of construction the superstructure can be constructed from structural timber panels that are sandwiched units fully packed with insulative materials sourced from environmentally friendly products such as sheep’s’s wool, recycled newspaper or plastics

Now I happen to know that there is no sedum roof and that the superstructure is breeze blocks. So much for the green credentials which gained approval in the first place. I wonder if I should take this up with Haringey, who by a quirk of fortune have designated the building "Best Home" in Haringey 2012

 

 

Our councillor's original enquiry.

Dear Member's Enquiries 

A new house has been constructed in Crouch End N8 on Fairfield Road, close to the junction with Elder Avenue: it is known as the "Light House".

 I have had this from a resident;

 Fairfield Road pavement - a new house has been constructed where there were previously some garages in Fairfield Road (near the corner of Elder Avenue). The pavement outside this house is now very uneven as lorries had driven onto the pavement and also the pavement had been dug up during the house construction. Should the developers have made good the pavement, or is this something the council should do?

 Please arrange for an inspection of the pavement to establish what needs doing to return it to standard,  and also tell me if there was an requirement in the Planning Permission granted for the house requiring the developer to make good the pavement.

 Thanks you

On August 16th he got the answer back to the planning permission question "No". In the meantime Highways offered the opinion that the pavement is good enough as it is

 

Tags: the light house

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There are other, what I would consider serious breaches of the agreed planning application.  The illustrations in the Design Document (page 3) illustrate a very different frontage to the building:

which is covered in section 10.2 (The proposed material palette is intended to be simple and will be a combination of render, timber and aluminum (window frames). The majority of the dwelling will be finished in dark/ pale external render and stained timber and ceramic tile.  As we can see - the finish is BRILLIANT WHITE!!!

Further to all of this, what the above photograph does not illustrate is that there is a drainpipe on the front of the building. which drains straight onto the pavement - surely this could not have passed even Buildings Control?

The council, in its many departments, needs to answer these and the other matters, and should be taking every step to enforce the details of the planning permissions it grants. 

To: Mr Adrian Essex,

Thankyou for your complaint/enquiry.  This will be allocated to an officer within 3 working days and you will be contacted with further details regarding your complaint.  In the meantime, should you have any further queries please do not hesitate to call us on 020 8489 5115.

Reference: PE-000756

Please quote your reference number if you make any further enquries concerning your comment.

Hi Adrian, Simon

Many thanks for contacting the local council to find out about the ‘serious breaches of the agreed planning application’ re Light House.  I’m sure you have now received a response from the council, but here is the email that our architects sent to the planning authority with their response, just in case you haven’t seen it.

I have to say that I am bemused by your approach to complaining about this kind of stuff.  As you know, Adrian we have worked together and are working together on the Earl Haig Hall.  We may not 100% agree with each other on the approach re Earl Haig Hall, but I find it strange that you would hide behind a website and letters to the council and a local councillor (I presume David Winskill) to bring up your comments, complaints and musings about what is our home.  I see these emails and complaints as personal against us and frankly I don’t think they are necessary.

Why not pop across the road and discuss it with us?  You will have seen that both Miriam and I are approachable people and in fact are more than happy to discuss these things.  We realise that the house might be to the liking of everyone, that’s fine, but we did go through the proper rules and regulations in regards to the build and facade.   Also, why didn’t you or Simon complain or object at the time of planning or during the build – have we done something so terrible to upset you?

Further, you say it was a quirk of fortune that we won an award.  Perhaps rather than that, you might be pleased that we have created an award winning house on Fairfield Road, therefore upping the value of all our properties and also adding something unique to the road.  Or would you and Simon prefer there to be old garages there with rubbish, rats and untended weeds?  The house was commended for exactly that, adding something unique and interesting to the street and in fact we have created a home, rather than a generic block of flats, which we could have done!

So, perhaps what I’m saying is that if you’d like to discuss further please come over and let’s chat rather than do this impersonally by letters of complaint to the council and councillors.  We’d be more than happy to discuss any concerns you have with you.

Regards

Miki

I worked on the project at The Light House, 2a Fairfield road and am happy to provide the following information to address any raised points.

Point 1: sustainability

The light House, 2a Fairfield Road provides an exemplary model of sustainable architecture within the borough. Beyond the obvious advantages in thermal mass and insulation of building underground, the house uses the following features to save energy and deliver a low carbon footprint:

-          Thermally evacuated aluminium framed window and door frames, set with double glazed, low E glass.

-          100mm of rigid of celotex insulation to all walls and floors, 200mm of duel density to roof, complete with thermal breaks.

-          Low energy LED lighting throughout

-          Low energy hot water under floor heating, set within 100mm screed for superior thermal mass and heat retention

-          High levels of natural light, thorough extensive glazing to walls and ceilings, minimising requirement for artificial interior lighting

-          Natural ventilation  of all spaces including basement

-          Low energy white goods, system boiler and mega flow to enable reduced energy consumption

-          Recycled and sustainably sourced materials including timber floor boards and timber wall construction and structural members.

The green sedum roof, proposed in our planning package is due to be retro installed in later years, at the time of construction the final sedum blanket was left out for value engineering reasons, however a suitable membrane, substrate, non compressible insulation and reinforced structure was constructed to allow for post completion installation with nor roof alteration required.  

Construction of the upper floor structural walls changed from timber to masonry during the detailed design stage in conjunction with the project contractor and quantity surveyor as a result of time delays being applied by the offsite timber frame manufactures. The installed system incorporates the same level of insulation proposed, yet due to the higher thermal mass of concrete over timber, gives a lower U value (transmission of heat through an object). As proposed, the roof structure utilised off site pre-fabricated glue-laminate timber beams and hybrid space joists, thus minimising waste and off cuts on site. A combination of internal fill natural fibre insulation and over sailing solid board insulation (warm roof) were used in line with the intensive green roof proposed.

Point 2: exterior finish

The planning proposal named render, ceramic tile and timber board as the exterior finish, timber boards were rejected during the detailed design stage due to concerns over vandalism and associated maintenance issues. The eventual choice of render colour was finalised as white, rather than dark through client choice. Ceramic tiles are used as proposed. A sample panel of all materials was erected on site before any finishes took place. The planning authority were notified and invited to view the sample board, (please see attached email)

Point 3: drain pipe

This was required due to some minor revisions in the roof drainage pattern. The project was signed off by building control approved inspectors, Scott, White and Hookins on 19th July, 2012 (certificate attached)

Conclusion:

 

Whilst respecting the objectors points and concerns, I am confident the minor amendments and supplied information mentioned above contribute to an excellent finished result, both preserving and enhancing the conservation area. I am more than willing to discuss this further in person with the objector, should it be required. I note that several other design and access statements for proposed developments in the borough are citing The Light House as outstanding contemporary precedent. Indeed the house has gone on to win the borough’s own design award in July 2012 for best new home (see attached certificate). Paul Smith has directly complimented the house as a fine example off sustainable and good design, calling for more houses like this. Finally, Paul Finch, former chair of CABE and head of the Haringey Design Panel, described the project as ‘creating something from nothing, and in doing so providing a family home within a unique and challenging site that despite being only occupied for a short time, already felt like a home’.

 

 

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