Alex Coleman BA(Hons) DipArch (Kingston)
Roberto Scalzullo ARB RIBA

House extensions, Higher Green, Ewell

This as-yet unbuilt scheme proposes the demolition of a double garage and construction of a two-storey side extension to a large detached property in Higher Green in Ewell. The planning application also included for the replacement of all windows as is required for work being carried out on houses within Conservation Areas.  

Planning permission was granted in June 2011.


The building types of the Higher Green Conservation Area

The Higher Green Conservation Area is comprised of modestly-sized detached family houses and garages, chiefly created during the development of the late 1920s to the 1930s. The buildings sit on plots with a common building line and share a Tudorbethan style which draws from a shared vocabulary of materials and details. Beyond this, the pleasing variations between individual properties reflect the tastes of their original owners who probably had the opportunity of choosing the materials and details for their new house as they wished. However, whilst some of the houses are similar to those in the adjoining The Green and Ewell Downs Road, which was also built by Ernest Harwood, the buildings are generally larger and plainer, with less decoration.

More recent development in Higher Green has been built to generally accord with this Tudorbethan style. A greater amount of modern development has also been carried out along the eastern side of Longdown Lane North, where larger spaces had been left between Harwood’s houses of the early 20th century. Close to the junction with Reigate Road are a number of houses created during the 1960s. Further south is an example of a neo-Georgian property and a house dating from the 1970s-80s. Recently, and controversially, no.14 Longdown Lane North was demolished and replaced with two modern four-to-five bedroom family homes.

There are no Listed or Locally Listed buildings in the conservation area.

'Positive' buildings 

The Townscape Analysis Map identifies those historic buildings which appear to have been built as part of the original building period in the late 1920s and 1930s. Later buildings, or those which have been heavily altered or indeed rebuilt, have been omitted. The identified buildings are considered to make a positive contribution to the special interest of the conservation area due to their use of vernacular forms and the consistently high quality of their materials and details.  

Government guidance in PPG15 ‘Planning and the historic environment’ advises that general presumption exists in favour of retaining those buildings which make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area (paragraph 4.27).

The guidance note states that proposals to demolish such buildings should be assessed against the same broad criteria as proposals to demolish listed buildings. The demolition of non-positive buildings may be allowed, but any redevelopment of the site will have to conform to existing Council policies, particularly in terms of site density, scale, materials and details.

Architectural styles, materials and detailing 

The buildings in the conservation area are notable for their use of traditional building forms, materials and details, all of which provide references to the Surrey vernacular tradition.  

Facing the green, the houses in Higher Green are fairly substantial family dwellings of two storeys with pitched roof covered in handmade tiles, often now replaced with machine made clay tiles. The buildings often have projecting front bays, either on the left or right, sometimes continued to ground level to create catslide roof. The front elevations are rarely symmetrical and as has been previously described, each house is slightly different. White render is usually used for the side and rear elevations with the front bays being decorated with tile hanging or false timber framing. The contrast of white chimney stacks against the deep red tiled roofs is a notable feature when these properties are viewed across the green. Leaded lights, set in casement or mullioned and transomed windows, add interest, along with the occasional oriel window.

In Longdown Lane North, the design of the properties is far more varied, although the southern side is far more cohesive than the north, where empty plots shown on the 1934 map were incrementally filled in. The use of white painted render, pitched tiled roofs, gables, and very varied building forms, is notable. False timber framing in several locations adds interest. Overall, however, these rather disparate buildings are linked by their general form and use of materials, their front gardens and planting, and the cohesive building line.

Each house was also usually provided with a single garage, located next to the house but set slightly back. These had pitched tiled roofs and double timber boarded doors with glazed upper lights set below a false timber framed gable. The height of these garages is low by current standards, as they were designed for a time when cars were somewhat smaller in height and width. Many of these garages have been replaced with larger versions. 

Today, many of the houses have been extended to the back and side and the original garages either subsumed within side extensions or rebuilt. However the additional control exercised by the Article 4 (2) Direction has helped to prevent the widespread loss of original materials and other features.  

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