Making your home more energy efficient – retrofit and extension success in Bristol Conservation Area

It was great to collaborate again with the inspirational team at Barefoot Architects, this time on a project which sought to demolish a defunct conservatory, replace with a rear and side extension and retrofit the existing building.  The site was located in a Conservation Area, adjacent to a nature reserve and close to historic parks and gardens in Bristol City. 

Given the sensitive nature of the site we were brought on board early on in the process.  Initially our role was advisory, providing strategic guidance and assessing the proposed design against local policy and precedent within the area.  

It was very clear that the current configuration of the house was not fit for purpose. The sizeable extensions and retrofit elements sought to improve the functional quality of the space, its energy efficiency and also to improve the exterior appearance so that the revised building would better assimilate into its wider context. 

But given the sensitive nature of the site, its multitude of designations and considerations and the fact that design is always a subjective point, we also prepared a Planning Statement to support the application and provide the planning justifications for the proposed changes. 

Extensions and retrofit in a Conservation Area – key planning considerations

Key to our involvement was demonstrating that the scale of the proposed extension and design of the retrofit would be appropriate to the building’s character within the wider Conservation Area.  We also evidenced how the proposals were compliant within both local and national planning policy guidance.   

The core planning considerations included: 

  • The principle of development – we evidenced why the principle could be found sound and how the proposals complemented and integrated into the surrounding context better than the current situation;
  • Sustainable design – Barefoot Architects had taken a fabric first approach to reduce energy demand. Furthermore the design sought to facilitate numerous Passivhaus strategies and renewable resources;
  • Sustainable travel options – the proposals included electric car charging and bike storage;
  • Sustainable building methods and materials will be used for duration of project
  • Responding to context –  in terms of design, the proposed materials were more reflective of the general palette seen in the rest of the Conservation Area including clay roof tiles, brick and timber.
  • Residential amenity and overlooking – despite the substantial nature of the proposed extension and its associated roof terrace, we successfully evidenced that there were no issues in regards to overlooking, overshadowing, or overbearing impacts to neighbouring residents. 

The main aim of the project was that this retrofitted home would act as a precedent for how an outdated house can be updated and improved to bring it up to modern environmental standards whilst maintaining the character and massing of the building.  Barefoot Architects certainly achieved this in their design, and it was a real pleasure for us to provide the planning considerations in support of the application and we are delighted that the case officer felt the proposals were policy compliant and would ‘contribute a high quality and valuable addition to the built environment’ of the Conservation Area. 

This project provides a prime example of our collaborative approach to development projects and our flexibility in terms of our planning consultancy role – in this instance we provided strategic guidance and a planning statement to support the application.  However, we are always happy to adapt to suit the requirements of the client, project, and wider team – providing initial advice and planning strategy, all the way through to  complete project management, from concept through to LPA decision notice.  Contact our team to find out how our planning knowledge and experience can add value to your development aims.  

About us

We are Plainview Planning – a solutions orientated, experienced and knowledgeable team of planning consultants.  If you need professional and informed planning support with your development project, then contact our team via, to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.

Image source: Barefoot Architects(2023)