In February of 2014, we were excited to introduce you to the Sewell family’s plans to to build Merton’s first sustainable home. Unfortunately, the application was later refused and, having continued to follow their progress, we are extremely disappointed to hear that almost a year on, their forward thinking project has once again been delayed by a poor planning decision.
Had it been allowed to go ahead, we feel this building could have been an exemplar within the borough and it is disheartening that this potential will not yet be fulfilled.
Here, Dean tells us more about the difficulties that he and his family have faced, and how they will not give up on their plans to become carbon neutral…
“2014 has been a challenging year in trying to achieve our dream of building a PassivHaus (sustainable / zero-carbon home) in Merton. We had commenced this journey full of hope and excitement and believing that such an exemplar and sustainable building would be embraced within the borough and would, perhaps, encourage others to do the same (even if a little).
It was also a busy year – we submitted two planning applications and one appeal, in addition to working closely with the council on many aspects of the design and revisions. Whilst we were not successful in securing planning permission, the appeal process did demonstrate that there is strong national support for sustainable developments such as this and the appeal was helpful in that it was very specific in what issues we needed to address. Following changes in response to the appeal, we did also receive a “recommendation for approval” from the Planning Department, although this was ultimately overruled by local councillors at the planning committee primarily in response to local objection.
Building highly sustainable buildings is considerably more complex than building typical homes. There is a balance to achieve between sustainability/performance and conformity/convention. We have two choices: we could sacrifice sustainability and build a more conventional home, which would probably be the easiest thing for us to do, but it would be the lazy, cowardly and wrong path because it would do nothing to improve the situation. So, we have chosen the second path, which is to continue to engage the planning department and drive for a sustainable solution.
Whilst it’s been disappointing, we are dedicated to achieving our dream to be carbon neutral. 2014, the year of the IPCC and the largest climate march ever, also opened our eyes even more to the lack of awareness and immediate urgency in addressing climate change and the need for sustainable living.