“Exceptional” New Build Approved on Essex Green Belt

An “exceptional” new-build has been granted planning permission within the Essex Green Belt in order to reinstate a former historic manor house and estate originally designed by renowned architect Henry Holland and landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – who celebrates his 300th anniversary this year.

Epping Forest District Council planning committee last night approved Clear Architects’ scheme, which was inspired by the historic neo-classical design of the 18th Century Debden Hall in Loughton, Essex, in a 12:2 vote.

Though the land is still known locally as ‘Debden Hall’, there is no trace of the former historic manor house, which had been designed by Henry Holland in 1775. Fire destroyed the first Debden Hall in 1929. A second Debden Hall was erected on the estate but in a different location in 1936 but was demolished in the 1960s. The landowner has now committed to bringing the site back to its Henry Holland and Capability Brown former glory.

As part of the planning permission, the Grade II listed wrought iron gates on England’s Lane, Loughton, will be restored, as will a sweeping tree-lined driveway leading to the property, and a piece of land larger than 20 tennis courts will be opened up to public access via Epping Forest Country Care’s nature reserve.

Clear Architects has brought in Chelsea Flower Show Award-winning landscape architects, Aralia Garden Design. Aralia’s design proposal is inspired by Capability Brown design details and will reintroduce a variety of historic plantings to the site, which also features ancient woodland. A landscaped feature in evidence on the estate – believed to be either an ‘ice house’, a Belvedere or a Tumulus – will form part of the 1.34 acres gifted to Epping Forest Country Care for community benefit.

Melanie Clear, director of RIBA-Chartered Clear Architects says:

“As a Loughton-based practice of architects, we are very much aware of the importance of this development to the local community.  However, there are of course wider implications with regards to the planning process.  Green Belt areas are protected, so the decision to grant planning permission is extremely unusual and proves how exceptional this scheme is.”

“We are thrilled with the planning committee’s decision and both I and my team feel privileged to be involved. We now have an awful lot of work ahead of us to progress this incredibly exciting project that we are confident will stand the test of time.”

A public consultation on the Debden Hall III scheme, held on November 18 2015, was attended by more than 70 local residents who showed their support for the project in the majority. Next steps in the design process are now underway and construction dates and more information will be provided over the coming weeks and months, as available.