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Suffolk earth-shelter eco home hope

PUBLISHED: 10:10 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:08 01 August 2010

Bird's eye artist's impression of what an earth-sheltered eco-house at Wangford would look like.

Bird's eye artist's impression of what an earth-sheltered eco-house at Wangford would look like.

Emily Dennis

A builder is hoping that ambitious plans to construct what is believed to be the first earth-sheltered eco-house in East Anglia will finally get the green light.

A builder is hoping that ambitious plans to construct what is believed to be the first earth-sheltered eco-house in East Anglia will finally get the green light.

Stephen Clarke wants to build the home on land at Little Priory, Wangford, for his family to live in.

Mr Clarke, 49, was born in the village and is the third generation of his family living in Wangford.

He said it was his dream to build an eco-friendly home after years spent working on traditional building projects. "We have got to look after the next generation and I see it as a way forward," he said.

The site is in a conservation area and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to the grade I-listed church of St Peter and St Paul in Church Road.

The house has been designed so it blends into the landscape. It would be built into the existing bank so it cannot be seen.

It would have straw walls and sustainable features such as underfloor heating, solar panels and a rain-harvesting system.

But getting the project off the ground has not been straightforward for Mr Clarke and chartered architect Vaughan Keal.

Earlier plans were refused by Waveney District Council in November 2008 and an appeal by Mr Clarke was subsequently dismissed by the planning inspectorate.

However, Mr Clarke and Mr Keal hope a fresh planning application has addressed the inspector's main concerns which focused on boundary and landscaping issues.

Mr Keal added: "The inspector was very clear that he thought the design was of a high order."

Despite dismissing the appeal, planning inspector Peter Golder said in his report: "The overall design approach embodies sustainable building and energy-efficiency tech-nology in an innovative and unique manner. The council's conservation officer described the proposal as offering an ingenious use of the site and I would echo that view."

Documents submitted to the district council in support of the new application state: "The proposed design approach fully respects the sensitivity of the position and character, naturally using the rear south-west facing slope to provide an earth-sheltered eco-house.

"Although the site is well screened, the design is seamlessly built into the landscape such that the surface of the land rolls over the roof. It acts like a ha-ha preserving the view. The scheme is of a high level of design, both in architecture and landscape. It will enhance the setting and area."

The application will be discussed by the district council's planning committee at a future date.

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