Buckinghamshire councillor Ed Gemmell has been denied planning permission for a new ‘zero carbon’ eco home in High Wycombe.

The Climate Party leader’s fellow councillors rejected his plans to build the two-storey, two-bedroom affordable house at 106 Roberts Ride in Hazlemere at a planning committee meeting on Thursday night.

The committee unanimously backed a motion to refuse the plans put forward by Cllr David Johncock, who said he said he had ‘serious concerns’ with the blueprints for the new home including the loss of the passageway to the back garden.

Members also raised concerns that the kitchen window of the existing semi-detached property would be covered up by the eco home, which would be built onto its side wall within the plot of 106 – effectively creating a terrace.

Councillors agreed with planning officers’ recommendation for refusal on the grounds that the eco home’s benefits of being a ‘highly energy efficient building’ did not outweigh its ‘adverse impacts’ on the character and appearance of the area due to ‘town cramming and overdevelopment’.

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Cllr Gemmell, who represents Hazlemere, told the Bucks Free Press he was ‘frustrated’ his application had been refused and expected to appeal the decision.

He said: “How on earth are we going to get zero carbon homes fit for the future if they are refused simply on the basis that they don’t look like other homes in the street and local planning policies are simply ignored?”

Plans for the eco home did not receive a single objection from local residents and were generally supported by Hazlemere Parish Council, which said the ‘innovative’ plans were ‘well-researched’ and took full consideration of the neighbourhood plan.

Cllr Gemmell – who was not present at the meeting – said his proposed new home had been designed to meet rigorous energy efficient standards known as ‘Passivhaus’.

The eco home’s structure would have included timber and hemp, while bricks reclaimed from the knocked-down garage would have been recycled to use on the front of the new property.

The independent councillor intended to live in his new house, which would have had solar panels on the roof and an electric vehicle charging point by the front door.

The construction of the eco home would have been carbon negative, while its operation would have been zero carbon, according to the application.

It would not have involved destroying any green or natural open space and ‘would have complied with the new Hazlemere Neighbourhood Plan’.

Cllr Gemmell’s application stated: “The proposed house is not only compliant with all policies and planning recommendations but has been designed to fit seamlessly into the local area street scene as it resembles closely classic house extensions as seen all over the estate and the parish.”

Cllr Sarfaraz Raja told the committee meeting: “If this was a normal application, not a councillor’s one, I would say I would be worried about the living standards in the dwelling… I personally think it is not enough space.”

However, a planning officer responded to this concern, telling the committee that the proposed eco home did meet national minimum space standards.

Cllr Steve Guy also weighed in on Cllr Gemmell’s property, adding: “He really does need to go back to the drawing board with quite a lot of aspects of it.”

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