Subterranean home could be built just off Lewes High Street

Ambitious plans for an ‘underground’ detached house in the Lewes Conservation Area will be considered by the South Downs National Park Authority.

A planning application has been submitted for the subterranean, sustainable home on a site to the rear of 207 High Street – roughly halfway up School Hill.

The proposal is to construct a contemporary dwelling on part of a large garden area while remaining unobtrusive and respecting the context of its surroundings.

An innovative part of the design is that more than 50 per cent of it would be below ground level, meaning the house would be discrete and not obstruct existing views of the listed buildings that form the backdrop and context of the site.

The application site is enclosed to the south by properties fronting the High Street, to the north by properties fronting East Street with the same arrangement for properties fronting onto the east and west by Albion Street and Market Street. A report prepared by planning and development consultants Durhill Ltd has recommended that planning permission be granted.

“The proposed development will not result in any change to the privacy or amenities of the existing adjacent or surrounding properties,” said the report.

“The proposed dwelling intends to be of a scale and floor area applicable to the size and location of the plot.”

It would have an internal area at ground floor of only 66m2 and then a subterranean floor space of a further 82m2 – 7m2 of which would be an internal covered ‘garden’ space.

Durhill Ltd said: “The external aesthetic of the house is intentionally contemporary, but not overtly visible. The massing and design has been largely based upon the desire to conceal the new dwelling and protect the views to the Listed properties nearby.

“The external shape is intended to resemble a series of lozenges formed from timber to reflect a piece of joinery with careful detailing and junctions between the vertical cladding and the glazed areas. The additional use of timber to the roof enhances the sensation that the dwelling has been accurately crafted from timber.

“To accentuate the lozenge shape, elements of glazing have been located to create internal light and external interest between the differing methods of construction.”

From above ground the proposed development would appear as only a single storey structure. The property would rise to around 3.2m above ground level. The eaves height would be 2.8m.