#ECCplanning considers recostruction of Laing Easiform properties


Tonight, Exeter City Council’s Planning Committee considered 2 applications relating to existing 2-storey, semi-detached dwellings which are owned and let by ECC.

Agenda item 11: 102 Merrivale Road, Exeter EX4 1PW [16/0311/16]

Agenda item 12: 2 Oak Road, Exeter EX4 1QB [16/03013/16]

Also considered – under agenda item 13: List of of decisions made and withdrawn – was 94 Newman Road, Exeter EX4 1PJ [16/0461/16] – Officer’s Report  [Approved under delegated powers: 13 October 2016].

Each of the proposals were for demolition of the original dwelling and reconstruction to a similar plan and footprint, but with a 2-storey extension to the rear.

The current applications are one of a series of applications to demolish and rebuild the Council’s 17 remaining Laing Easiform houses, and has been made as the property has been deemed structurally unsound – and the new properties would feature better insulation and be more energy efficient. 3 other properties were retro-fitted in a different scheme Although award-winning, the retro-fitting did little to extend the life expectancy of the homes and it is now thought that it is more cost effective to demolish and rebuild the whole of the property

The 2 application were referred to the Planning Committee for determination  due to the receipt of an objection from each of the adjoining properties – as was an application for 39 Merrivale Road [approved at Planning Committee on 14 March 2016[ see Minute 22 where Cllr Hannah Packham spoke].

Principal planning material considerations raised were:

  1. Loss of light as a consequence of the proposed rear extension.
  2. Overlooking and loss of privacy.

I addressed the meeting under Standing Order 44:

As many members will be aware, I’ve long called for the Laing Easiform properties in the ownership of Exeter City Council to be renovated to increase thermal insulation – with the aim of getting them back into the Council’s housing stock as soon as possible and thence to house families on our waiting list.

In the past, this has been achieved by retrofitting…but this application proposed the complete demolition of the property and erecting a new-build in its place.

As Richard Short has already pointed out, both these properties are semi-detached. So I believe the demolition process will cause significant concern for the owner-occupiers in the adjoining properties – not least, causing them considerable disruption over the anticipated 6 month rebuild period.

With that in mind, I would like to suggest an alteration to recommendation 3, so that it would read:
No construction/demolition work shall take place outside the following times: 9am to 5pm (Mondays to Fridays),  nor at any time on Saturdays, Sundays, Bank or Public Holidays.
Reason: In the interests of residential amenity

The Committee agreed my change to recommendation 3 for 102 Merrivale Road, and agreed to defer the application on 02 Oak Road to allow for further discussions with the owner-occupiers of the adjoining property.

Objections to 102 Merrivale Road:

  • The house backs on to a park, where an abandoned youth service building has become the target of local youths. The lack of play opportunity, and the availability of derelict buildings generally causes a social unrest. This social unrest is likely to escalate with a further abandoned building next door. This is likely to mean that both 102 and 100 Merrivale Road are likely to become the target of vandalism, and damage.
  • 102 Merrivale Road has been built and modified since the 1930’s and is therefore likely rife with asbestos. Asbestos when not having force exposed is not dangerous. Demolishing the house could (without proper testing, auditing, and follow through) result in airborne asbestos affecting my family.
  • My garden contains slow worms and hedgehogs. Which are lovely, and my children love them. As I’m sure you are aware slow worms are a protected species, and aren’t too bothered by the journey between the 2 properties.
  • I am worried that the garden will be overlooked by the new development and remove my ability to use my garden with privacy
  • The similar characteristics of the properties on the street means that they fit in. The new development will not be in a similar style, and will be really incongruous. Especially when attached to a house in similar style to all the other houses on the street
  • There is no drop curb outside 102 merrivale road; it will not be possible for plant machinery to access the property without causing damage to the roadway, road.
  • Access of heavy vehicles will put at risk the users of the nearby (less that 80 metres) nursery school, and the people, and pets using the neighbouring parkland.
  • There will be serious effects to parking on the street should the proposed development go ahead. When the road is busy; the street can become impassable. This will be exacerbated by machinery, or waste being stored on the street, or changing the access to the street.

Objections to 2 Oak Road:

  • We share the chimney, walls, guttering, downpipes, fence and retaining back wall
  • A 2m 2-stoery extension will massively reduce light to to rear of our house
  • Our property will be hugely devalued
  • My partner Jane is a Registered Nurse and works at night 4 nights a week – with the noise and the disruption it is likely that she will have to move out if construction begins. it would be impossible to sleep during the day. This will cause stress and impact on her ability to perform at work
  • We will be unable to use our garden for our 2 dogs, rabbit and ourselves due to lack of privacy
  • We will be unable to hang out washing so use more electricity to dry cloths
  • Scaffolding will inevitably come into our property
  • With the inevitable removal of the fence, our trees and shrubs will be damaged

Other applications for ECC Laing Easiform properties that have planning approval:
16/0139/16: 12 Myrtle Road, Exeter EX4 1PZ – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 21 March 2016]

16/0140/16: 42 Myrtle Road, Exeter EX4 1QA – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 21 March 2016]

16/0141/16: 39 Merrivale Road, Exeter EX4 1PX – Officer’s Report [Approved at Planning Committee: 14 March 2016]

16/0142/16: 113 Merrivale Road, Exeter EX4 1PZ – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 21 Mar 2016]

16/0143/16: 98 Bowhay Road, Exeter EX4 1PF – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 21 March 2016]

16/0144/16: 49 Newman Road, Exeter EX4 1PJ – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 21 March 2016]

16/0145/16: 106 Newman Road, Exeter EX4 1PJ – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 21 March 2016]

16/0306/16: 03 Myrtle Road, Exeter EX4 1PZ – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 02 June 2016]

16/0307/16: 06 Myrtle Road, Exeter EX4 1PZ – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 02 June 2016]

16/0308/16: 07 Myrtle Road, Exeter EX4 1PZ – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 02 June 2016]

16/0309/16: 26 Myrtle Road, Exeter EX4 1QA – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 02 June 2016]

16/0310/16: 28 Merrivale Road, Exeter EX4 1PX – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 03 June 2016]

16/0312/16: 58 Bowhay Road, Exeter EX4 1PF – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 02 June 2016]

16/0460/16: 40 Newman Road, Exeter EX4 1PL – Officer’s Report [Approved under delegated powers: 16 Sept 2016]



St Thomas Community News | Empty homes


Empty Houses

Cllr Hannah Packham and Cllr Paul Bull outside 42 Myrtle Road
Cllr Hannah Packham and Cllr Paul Bull outside 42 Myrtle Road

Residents may have noticed activity round some of the empty properties on the Buddle Lane housing estate.

Exeter City Council still have 20 houses built to the Laing Easiform pattern and are in new of serious attention.

Cllr Paul Bull has been trying to get some council action and he is pleased to announce that work on them will start in the summer.

“The plans to tackle these properties were put on hold by the emergency work caused by the storms two winters ago.

The Easiform design is not thermally efficient and there is a need to do something radical – the council is planning to knock them down and start all over again.

“The work should start in early August, and will be a rolling programme, with a staggered start – one house being started every 3 weeks, and the £2m programme should take 18 months to complete.”

Final 10 planning applications for Laing Easiform properties

Exeter City Council are about the embark on Phase 2 refurbishment of their 17Laing Easiform properties on the Buddle Lane estate – on Bowhay Lane, Merrivale Road, Myrtle Road, Newman Road and Oak Road. [NB: Since the earlier retrofit of 3 other properties, 69 Newman Road was sold on in December 2014].


Following a structural report carried out by an expert in the field of non traditional housing [Kendall Kingscott Partnership, who worked on the Sovereign  trickle transfer properties in the same area], the plan is to demolish each property and reconstruct – rather than retro-fit as before, since this did little to extend the life expectancy of the dwelling.s

Neighbour Notification letters were sent out by Exeter City Council in November 2015 – to occupiers in both the attached properties and unattached property.


Planning applications for 7 properties were submitted in February, and now the remain 10 have been submitted – including a Design and Access Statement



This statement has been prepared on behalf of the applicant, Exeter City Council.

The purpose of this statement is to support the submission of a planning application for the demolition and reconstruction of the existing property, including a 2-storey extension to the rear of the building.

The property to which this statement relates is situated in the Cowick area of Exeter.

This application is for the demolition and reconstruction of the existing property, which also includes remodelling of the internal layouts and a 2-storey extension to the rear of the building.

The front elevation of the property will remain mostly unaffected in terms of its appearance.

Window openings in the new external wall will match the size of those found previously in terms of width. The cill height of the ground floor window may well vary depending on whether the kitchen is located at the front or rear of the new property.

The new entrance door into the property will receive a lean-to-roof and canopy over.

The existing building has a dashed render finish, with white u-PVC windows, doors, rainwater goods, soffits and a fibre cement slate roof covering.


2.01 Use

The aims of the proposal are to demolish the existing property which has been structurally condemned and the construction of a new property which complies with modern-day standards and is more thermally efficient. Therefore the use of the building remains the same, which is residential.

2.02 Layout

The layout has been developed to provide the property with a ground floor WC, kitchen/diner, lounge, first floor bathroom and 3 bedrooms. The application drawings show the layout for the property.

2.03 Landscape

The existing soft landscaping is to remain unaltered. Soft landscaping works are to consist of the re-grading of the existing grassed areas to suit the new footpaths and patio areas.

The proposed hard landscaping for the property is to comprise of a new concrete footpath leading from the public footpath to the front door and continuing along the side of the property to the rear garden. Outside the rear door will be an area of flag paving as indicated on the proposed site plans.

If existing hedging and poor condition fencing is needed to be removed, new close-boarded timber boundary fences are to be constructed, complete with new front and rear gates to match the fencing.

2.04 Appearance – external materials

The external materials have been chosen to match those of the existing property, which is to be demolished.

The external walls are to consist of a new timber frame structure with an insulated render system finish.

External windows, doors, fascias, soffits and rainwater goods are to be of white u-PVC, and Marley Eternit fibre cement roof slated to the main and lean-to roof constructions.


3.01 In addition to this Design Report & Access Statement, the following information is provided:

– completed forms

– drawings

  • 150624 AP(0) 49 Location Plan


  • 150625 AP(0) 50 Existing Plans


  • 150626 AP(0) 51 Proposed Plans


3.02 Flood Risk

The property is situated in a location with no flood risk

3.03 Drainage

The existing drainage is mains sewer. The proposals will be connecting into the existing drainage and discharging into the existing mains sewer.

3.04 Highways Access

The is no new vehicular or pedestrian access from the highway.


Access to the estate where the proposed development site is located is via Dunsford Road and Buddle Lane.

Existing Fire Brigade access routes and fire fighting areas shall be kept clear at all times.


5.01 External

Access into the property will be via a new concrete footpath leading to the entrance door from the existing public footpath. The new concrete footpath will continue along the side of the property to the rear gardent.

5.02 Textured surfaces

The existing dashed render finish will be replaced by the new insulated render system proposed for the new external wall construction.

5.03 External Lighting

The proposals include for new external lighting to the front elevation of the property, which will be operated by a PIR sensor.

5.04 Doors & Thresholds

Door furniture will be clearly distinguishable from the door by the light reflectance level required.

All thresholds are to be flush.


COWICK NEWSLETTER | Energy efficient properties in Cowick

Not everything I write for the newsletter actually ends up in the newsletter:

Back in 2011, when he first stood for election in Cowick, Cllr Paul Bull noticed an empty property on Newman Road.

“I looked very run-down and in need of some loving care. I wondered why it had fallen into this state of repair.”

Paul found that the empty property was a Laings’ Easi-Form building, and there were 2 other examples of this non-conventional construction type were laying empty in Cowick.

PB + HM | Outside 47 Newman Road
Cllr Paul Bull and Cllr Heather Morris outside 57 Newman Road in 2012

“I found out that they were in need of varying amounts of structural repair, and up until then, ECC Housing Department would normally transfer this type of stock to Sovereign Housing Association, who had easier access to grants to bring them up to a habitable standard. But those grants were become harder to get”

Paul was becoming frustrated. “I was sitting on committees approving an Empty Homes Strategy, yet in my own ward I knew there were 3 such properties, and these had been empty for some time.”

The issue of refurbishing these Laing Easiform properties was discussed by Exeter City Council’s Executive on 03 July 2012, where they agreed ECC would retain ownership of the remaining 21 properties and keep the income and the repairing obligations associated with ownership. This option would require a total refurbishment investment by the Council of at least £1.58m, which would be increased if any of the properties were able to have extensions. This expenditure would need to be funded from the HRA but it would only be payable as and when the Laings homes became vacant and refurbished

As a result of pressure from Paul and his co-councillor Heather Morris, ECC looked at new and innovative ways to restore and refurbish the properties.

Three years on, the properties are now occupied and were recently shortlisted as Best Energy Efficient Building Scheme in the prestigious Green Energy Awards 2014 organised by Regen SW.

Paul says: “I am always keen to promote green initiatives and the conversions of these 3 properties have put my green ideals into practice.

“Before work started these properties were very poor in terms of energy efficiency. Through a range of measures brought together in the refurbishment, they are now new homes with high levels of insulation that will be more economic to occupy.”

Paul concludes: I am pleased that the refurbishment of these properties has been recognised nationally and acts as a replicable pilot for other housing stock of similar construction type in Cowick and elsewhere.”

2014-01-23 12.45.33-1

2014-07-07 10.02.50

SW Green Energy Awards 2014 | Best Best Energy-Efficient Scheme

The refurbishment of 3 Laing Easiform properties within Cowick have been short-listed in Best Energy-Efficient Scheme category of the SW Green Energy Awards 2014 organised by Regen SW.


3. Exeter City Council
Exeter City Council has completed a refurbishment of 3 non-traditional, hard to-treat properties in the St Thomas area to very high standards of thermal efficiency. The refurbishment of these properties acts as a replicable pilot for other housing stock (of similar construction type) in the area.

2014-07-07 10.02.50

1. What are the environmental benefits of the scheme including units of energy delivered and carbon saved on a monthly or yearly basis?

Prior to the works being undertaken the buildings were very poor in terms of thermal efficiency, before the work they were producing 5.1 tonnes of carbon per year, following the works they achieved 2.1 tonnes of carbon per year. The work has also produced a significant reduction in their energy requirements going from 426 kwh/m2 per year to 171 kwh/m2 per year.

This means they have less impact on the environment while remaining comfortable for the occupants. The old electric water and space heating system has been replaced by a high efficiency combination boiler and the windows have been renewed with triple glazed windows. Ventilation is provided by a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery unit.

2. What are benefits of the scheme for the local area, e.g. through cost savings to local organisations and involvement of local supply chains

The scheme was prompted by the need to bring back three non traditional construction type properties into residential use. These properties had been empty for a number of years and required varying amounts of structural works. The work was procured following the Exeter City Councils procurement procedures and policies and was awarded to a regional contractor, Jones Building Group, the contract included all structural, refurbishment and energy efficiency works. During the delivery of the project local contractors were used to undertake the majority of the works and the properties were used on two occasions by the Energy Saving Trust to provide tool box talks to local suppliers, contractors, architects and designers.

Once the works were completed the three properties were occupied by tenants direct from the Councils waiting list so providing them with a new home with high levels of insulation that will be more economic to occupy.

3. What is the significance of the scheme on a county, regional or national level? Is it a first, is it replicable?

Regionally this project was unique in the number of energy efficiency matters it brought together in one building. Very often there are programmes to deliver one or two of the measures we carried out but for this project we took a much more holistic approach and dealt with all aspects although a major focus was given to the insulation of the building fabric. The depth of the external wall insulation was 160mm which is more than is usually specified but we wanted to see if this could be achieved and what would the outcome be in terms of not only energy efficiency but also visual appearance. We wanted these properties to act as a trial to what could be replicated when future units became empty, certain aspects we will be carrying forward to other properties but others will not. For example a lot of money was spent on the new triple glazed windows but we feel that similar performance can be achieved with cheaper products. This then delivers better value for money for the Council allowing us to carry out the works to more properties within the budget allowed.

Jones Building Group | Refurbishment of three Laing Easiform houses for Exeter City Council


Summer 2014

Refurbishment of three Laing Easiform houses for Exeter City Council

Following a competitive procurement exercise in the Spring of 2013, we were appointed to carry out energy efficiency refurbishment works to three non-traditional buildings. A range of measures were carried out including:

  • Silicon finish external wall insulation (160mm thick)
  • One property required the demolition and reconstruction of the outer skin
  • Installation of Resi Ties to all elevations of all three proper-ties
  • New drainage and landscaping works
  • Demolition of internal partitions and reconstruction in insulated studwork
  • Renewal of all ceilings
  • Lining external walls and first floor ceilings to achieve air tightness using Intello System barrier
  • Removal of ground floors and reconstruction using an insulated concrete floor
  • Lining all external walls with plasterboard and skim on counter battens
  • New doors and linings/frames
  • New bathrooms and kitchens
  • Decoration throughout
  • New electrical installation
  • New plumbing installation
  • Loft insulation
  • Gas fired central heating
  • Triple glazing
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery
  • Photovoltaic panels

We worked closely with Exeter City Council, Suppliers and Subcontractors to ensure that the full benefit of the measures would be realised.

The project was supported, and partially funded by the Ready for Retrofit programme and the Energy Savings Trust, and supported by Regen South West.

At the opening on 26th February the Energy Saving Trust’s technical expert, Steven Stenlund, lead a discussion of the building fabric approach and technical detailing of the project, which maximised the thermal comfort of the homes. Steven was complimentary regarding the air test score achieved which he said were approaching the Passivhaus standard.

The project has brought three Laings Easiform properties of hard-to-treat non-traditional construction back into use and used various technologies to improve their thermal efficiency. The Council has a further 21 of these property types in its portfolio and so the refurbished units will act as a template for future refurbishment works.

Thanks to Peter Hart (Project Manager) and Ian Fowliss (Site Manager) for delivering an excellent standard which was complimented by all those who attended the official opening ceremony.

57 NEWMAN ROAD Boarded up [13 june 12]
BEFORE: 57 Newman Road boarded up
57 Newman Road - refurbished
AFTER: 57 Newman Road refurbished

Screen shot 2016-02-14 at 18.24.26

Jones Building Group | Exeter City Council’s Laing Properties


Winter 2013

Well done to the Exeter team who are half way through an innovative project to completely renovate 3 properties to make them ultra energy efficient. Externally they are having 160mm insulation with a silicone render finish. Internally they have been completely gutted and have been enveloped with an air tight membrane.

Once completed each property was then tested for any heat loss. I am pleased to say they passed with flying colours. The properties will also benefit from improved thermal performance to external walls, new central heating enhanced by Mechanical Heat Recovery and Ventilation systems also incorporating Solar Energy.

One property has had to have all external walls removed and new external block walls with insulation render. This project is going very well.

Screen shot 2016-02-14 at 18.05.09

Exeter City Council Housing Review Account Update

Exeter City Council’s Scrutiny Committee – Community considered a report giving an update on the Housing Revenue Account for 2012/2013.

The report highlights the retention of Laing Easiform Council homes and their renovation/refurbishment


Non Traditional Properties

2.1 The Council has a total of 402 non –traditional properties as follows:

2.2 Whilst not technically unfit, many of these properties require extensive renovation. Since June 2012, the Council has stopped the ‘trickle-transfer’ of the Laing Easiform homes to Sovereign Homes and will in future retain the remaining 21 homes and refurbish them as and when they become available. It is estimated that the refurbishment of these 21 homes will require an investment from the Council of at least £1.58 million. This expenditure will be funded from the HRA but will only be payable as and when Laing homes become vacant and require refurbishment.

2.3 Refurbishment works will commence on the following Laing Easliform homes in summer 2013; 57 Newman Road, 44 Merrivale Road and 40 Myrtle Road.