William Sutherland



Office Address Cluan
Rydal Road
LA22 9BA

015394 34489

For location plan
see Local Links


barn conversion at Lowick - even the bats were left in place (see access hole in top of gable)

superseded -

see new site

How it all works in Practice 

...most of the time!

To summarise a typical project: superseded - see new website

While this is a gross simplification it just about covers the usual order of events in a typical project. Here is a bit more detail:

Agree terms with the client:
Every job is different and time spent sorting out just what the client expects you to do and how you are going to charge helps everyone.

If appointed as CDM Co-ordinator (formerly Planning Supervisor):
Under the CDM Regulations 2007 this is related to whether the work is non-domestic and will take more than 30 days start to finish or involving more than 500 person days of work.
(Still tricky to explain this one despite lots of helpful information made available by the HSE and others. Clients MUST be told about the CDM Regulations by 'designers' on the project - usually the Architect but it can be anybody with 'design' input. Bear in mind that apparently most prosecutions are of Clients and the recent revisions to CDM make this easier we are told.)

Note I advise clients that any 'construction' work on second homes which are let as a business - and I use the rule of thumb of 'do you pay business rates?' - comes under CDM and the full provisions apply on work taking more than 30 days or 5 or more men on site at one time. Such as occasional B&Bs which in planning terms might still be 'residential' use may now come under CDM as it covers anything in pursuit of a business.

Measured Survey:
Still pretty much a pencil and paper business (pencil doesn't run in the rain!) although the advent of laser measuring devices helps avoid having to cross barns full of cow muck in search of a measurement.
Professionals measure differently to your average person. They tend to want 'running' dimensions related to a fixed point and triangulation to check for squareness. Metrication still has not 'caught on' among some trades. Joiners particularly - A sort of 'Franglais' approach has emerged. "6 x 2 joists at 400 mm centres" is not uncommon.

Draw up the existing layout:
Always enjoyable until you find that the dimensions do not add up somewhere. Locally the stone buildings are never square and so experience tells you when to allow a bit of deviation. CAD actually makes this easier but it is not always worth the time and effort to obtain greater accuracy. (Except with kitchen units. Lakeland walls in old cottages often curve in at the base - most people measure wall dimensions at waist height or above - thus the kitchen units do not fit when they come onto site - usually late in the job!)

Draw up a design:
Every Architect probably has a slightly different design method adapted to the sort of work they normally encounter. I find working within the restrictions of the National Park no real problem. Most clients want to enhance their property and have it 'fit in' with the area. Thus design is fortunately not just about the mechanics of good layout and technical compliance but also giving at least a nod to local vernacular tradition. It is a bit of a paradox fitting modern technology into vernacular buildings perhaps but clients seldom think about it - local people even less so!

Discuss with client and amend as necessary:
I doubt if any job proceeds from start to completion without changes, although a few clients take this to extremes (not that this is always a bad thing). You often never really know until the job gets under way but it is one of the reasons I tend to charge on a time basis. Modern computer technology has greatly reduced the time it takes to incorporate design changes fortunately. Where it becomes tricky is if the changes are made after planning consent and it involves asking the planners for an amendment to the approved plans. The National Park Authority are not quite as severe on this as some other planning authorities, it would seem, but anything which significantly increases the overall size of the scheme, its height, or perhaps its impact on neighbours is likely to need a reapplication.

Make any planning applications:
Specialist consultants write books on this subject and so it is impossible to cover this in a paragraph... but perhaps it is sufficient to say that currently it has never been more complicated to make a planning application. Government attempts to simplify procedures have probably made it harder for the average person to fill in the forms themselves. The advent of the Planning Portal allows electronic applications but that has its own little quirks.
Most clients are interested in how long their application is going to take to receive a decision. Because of the government 8 week target, all planning authorities play a little game of not starting to count the 8 week period until they have all information they might possibly need. Bat surveys are now so commonly required that it is becoming worth setting them up to be submitted with the actual application forms (an ecological consultant does the survey) but there could be other surveys for all sorts of creatures, as well as trees, flood risk, protection of rivers during construction... all sorts of things that the Authority will want before validating the planning application and thus starting the 8 week 'clock'.
The National Park now does a pretty good job of handling applications at the moment, and once validated you can expect a planning officer to be allocated and them to call round to view your site within a few weeks of the application. Copies of plans are sent to statutory consultees such as the Parish and District Councils for their comments and recommendations. Sometimes these are reported in the local papers but it is the decision of the National Park Authority which ultimately matters.
Planning officers are also normally good at telephoning for a chat if they see a problem with some aspect of the planning application in sufficient time to allow some changes which might then allow consent instead of refusal (never a good idea to get a refusal on a site - better to withdraw the application).
Sometimes if negotiations are going to be protracted, rather than exceed the 8 week target time for a decision it will be suggested that you withdraw and reapply instead of being given a refusal. Generally such reapplications have been free within 12 months (but note that the LDNPA calculate this as 12 months from the date you handed the plans in, not validation date) but I have heard rumours that this may not continue.
(Notice that this 'paragraph' is already the longest on the page ;-)

[to be continued]


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