An Oxford Gem

JCA Team:

Chris Lawler & Sarah Homer

Project Design Team:

Johnston Cave Associates (Architects)

Verdun Grace (Quantity Surveyor)

Price and Myers (Structural Engineers)

JT Consulting (Party Wall Surveyor)

Principal contractor:
Imperial Restoration and Construction

Project type:

Alteration, Extension & Repair

Project year: 2015
Photographer: William Pearce

Winning Planning and listed building consent for a relatively large extension to a 19th Century Grade II listed property in a Conservation Area in the heart of Oxford is usually an impossible dream.

This is especially true when the construction work needed to be carried out within a very confined and restricted site with no direct vehicular access to the rear where the extension was planned and where an existing two story extension required demolishing.

Our brave clients, looking to their long term needs into old age wanted our ideas.

Though deft consultation with the council, we gained planning permission to replace the existing unsympathetic extension with a new larger one, which spanned the full width of the original house and projecting beyond the former rear building line.

The design featured a larger building than the planning department had been previously prepared to accept, but because the design was sympathetic to and respectful of the existing terrace, it was granted. What possibly swayed them, was that the design introduced a subtly distinctive and individual character to the street scape.

For our happy client, the extra space allowed for the existing first floor bathroom to be removed from its modern location where it had subdivided the original first floor drawing room, the form and character of which was reinstated, and allowed for the creation of a spacious new family bathroom within the extension. It also included new accessible facilities such as essential storage at ground and first floors and level access throughout the ground floor.

The design also provided new living accommodation which maximised the available light from the property's westerly aspect and provided new views into the garden while still respecting the traditional detailing of the Georgian house and adjacent terraced properties.

We even managed to create an outdoor storage solution within the limited building space.

The project was undertaken with construction access almost entirely via the front door and narrow through passage. We were particularly careful to ensure that the builders avoided any damage to historic surfaces or fabric and we saw that it was essential to maintain good neighbour relations throughout the project.

Challenges included resolving unknown structural issues which only became apparent once the existing extension had been demolished. They also included inconsistent party wall positions and construction which in the basement we solved using an innovative lime based plaster.

A further challenge was to design scaffolding which minimally impinged onto neighbouring properties and land and for the shortest time possible.

Like any successful project, collaborative working and liaison and good a working relationship within the team meant that a confined project became a gem that everyone is proud of.