Bordered by Banbury and Reading, Burford and the Chilterns, Oxfordshire is one of the most appealing and aspirational counties in England. At its centre, it boasts the storied university with its bustling city of 150,000, home to cultural and architectural treasures. Oxford’s magical beauty rivals the pastoral outskirts, incorporating two major areas of natural beauty and a slew of charming market towns.
With the city growing and the countryside increasingly popular, real estate in Oxfordshire is highly coveted. But what exists is often charming and well sited, close to green pastures, stylish taverns and ancient fabric.
To renovate or expand a home in Oxfordshire, you will need to win permission from the local council. Seek the help of architects, Oxfordshire-based, to explore local regulations and design a respectful design solution sympathetic to the local vernacular.
Since founding Scenario Architecture in 2007, we have built a reputation for transforming English homes that respect their environment and historical foundation – thanks in no small part to our successful relationships in planning departments across the country. Our experience and talent for heritage conversions have helped make Scenario one of the region’s most coveted architecture practices.
At Scenario we’ve developed a unique architectural style that marries heritage details and modern silhouettes. Our clients guide our process every step of the way on personalised elements that enhance their way of life. Our collaborations generate user-friendly spaces with striking contrasts – homes that are easy and enjoyable to live in.
Our flagship project Scenario House showcases our commitment to period properties with modern details – elements that can be adapted to any homeowner and any property, historic or contemporary. In 2018 it was shortlisted for a prestigious RIBA London Award.
Your Oxfordshire project
If you are undertaking a renovation, restoration, addition or new-build project in Oxfordshire, take a look at this illustrated synopsis we’ve drawn up to help you understand the process.
Most architectural projects in Oxfordshire require approval from the local council. Architects, Oxfordshire-based, can help you through the process, collaborating with officials to see your application through. Scenario is well versed at successfully steering clients through the planning permissions process.
Discover if your chosen architect is able to tackle planning permissions for your project. Visit the building controls section of your council’s website, find the search engine for planning applications and enter the name of your architect.
Scenario is an established architecture practice focusing on contemporary residential design. We take on projects of every scale and scope, from home refurbishment, renovation and expansions to new-builds.
Working with Scenario Architecture
Scenario Architecture specialises in residential projects of all varieties and scales. Our boutique studio offers bespoke services for home additions, renovations and new-builds. Based in London, we practice across England, so visit our online portfolio if you’re seeking an architect, Oxfordshire-based.
We’re a RIBA Chartered Practice, complying with strict health and safety criteria. Our skilled staff collaborate closely with our clients throughout every stage of the process, from the design phase, through planning and construction. We deliver on time and on budget.
We work with the latest 3D design technology. Real-time digital visualisations and virtual reality are the most effective and efficient tools for seeing through our work, choosing fittings and simulating natural light.
Read this Chartered Institute of Building case study to find details of a recent Scenario project. It demonstrates the benefits of advanced technologies for our domestic work.
In our client's words
Great ideas and vision to help with our substantial improvement of a Victorian terrace. In our experience Scenario's method prioritises the final result. That may mean more professional fees or higher quotes from contractors, as they understand the exact requirements.
Great, professional service. Good drawings and models and ultimately passed planning at the first attempt with Hackney Council. Would certainly recommend!
Scenario Architecture have created an outstanding design and space that was beyond my expectations. The design was through their unique process of understanding the client’s daily scenarios and collaborating with the client to come up with a unique design. The design process is one of the most memorable parts of the process and they also stretched my existing ideas to help create this unique space. A stress free journey throughout the whole process which Scenario were indispensable by giving advice on many difficult design and build decisions.
We wanted to renovate our house in a conservation area in central London. Given this involved a complete demolition and new build with an extra floor on top, getting planning approval was always going to be tricky. Scenario did an amazing job on the new house 'envelope' and throughout the planning phase. We couldn't have wished for better from them and having succeeded in gaining planning approval owe them a very big 'thank you'.
Scenario were great at thinking imaginatively and coming up with a design for a ground floor extension that was more ambitous than other architects we spoke to. They also helped us find a contractor who was able to complete the project working within timescale and our tight budget. I would recommend for mid to large sized projects with sufficient budget to allow for full utilisation of their creativity.
To people outside the UK as in, Oxfordshire represents a special, romantic version of England: stately homes, honey-coloured thatched-roof cottages, rolling green landscapes and Gothic churches. In many corners of the county, stringent building regulations and passion for the inherited environment has allowed the area to maintain its natural beauty. From the bucolic magnificence of the Cotswolds to the golden pillared monuments of Oxford, the area has a storybook quality. Modernity has crept into the Tudor shopfronts, the Asian restaurants, the swish country pubs, yet in many corners of the county, with views across stern steeples and clay-tile roofs, it’s like the past five centuries have never happened.
Retreating to Oxfordshire with means to buy a home is something of a dream. Save up and buy a plot near Christmas Common, or on the river at Henley, or a smart little terraced house in Faringdon. Prices are increasingly tough to swing, yet there still remain affordable pockets in the villages surrounding Blenheim Palace and the old farming communities toward Cheltenham. Oxford has always had a lively community whether or not you play a part in the illustrious university. Some 150,000 year-long residents bounce between the urban downtown and the museums and music halls of the university grounds. Residential neighbourhoods take on all architectural styles and characters, from Georgian and Victorian to mid-century modern. There are opportunities aplenty to expand, renovate and rebuild to improve function, access and quality of life.
Altering a heritage property in Oxfordshire is not unprecedented. There is a history of local conversions and expansions of listed properties falling under conservation laws. Lofts, basements, side returns and garden rooms are popular plans of action. Some families have had the occasion to build anew, adding swimming pools and so-called great rooms. Further out into the countryside, old barns and farmhouses are being transformed into family homes, using traditional oak frames to support wide banks of glass.
Ask your architects about their knowhow navigating the local permissions processes. The best architects will pilot your project through the Oxfordshire regulations and liaise with you throughout the life of your home extension, renovation or new build.
Frequently Asked Questions
- As a dynamic practice operating in London’s premium residential market, managing projects remotely and conducting virtual meetings was a very familiar territory for us, long before the pandemic began and ‘working remotely’ became the norm.
- Our clients have very busy lifestyles and may move between several different locations, both within the UK and beyond, during the lifecycle of a typical project.
- To accommodate such client needs and enable us to run their projects smoothly we had all the technology and know-how associated with remote working in place for several years.
- Read our full (Virtual) Process
- Scenario based design – We start each and every project with a meticulous analysis of our client’s vision, requirements and aspirations. We do this by asking our clients to imagine their everyday scenarios living in the completed house and describe their desired interaction with it.
- Uniquely interactive - Our client’s deep involvement in the process does not stop with completion of the brief. Our design meetings are highly interactive, informal and fun.
- Designed to reflect you – Based purely on your lifestyle, aspirations and requirements and free from externally imposed concepts, metaphors and pre-conceptions, a completely fresh and unique design will gradually emerge and it will tell your story not ours.
- Collaborative – We start the conversation with planners early and advise most of our clients to seek pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning application. Our experience shows that when properly consulted and liaised with, most planning case officers will be receptive to conduct a professional dialogue, increasing chances of successes.
- Strategic – We tailor a custom planning strategy for each project based on its circumstances such as planning history, local context and specific challenging elements. We sometimes split applications or introduce minor tweaks to the scheme during the consideration period in conversation with the officers to prevent one contentious element from jeopardising approval of the main scheme.
- Professional – Our experience shows that the quality and clarity of the submission in terms of background research, planning history of the property and context, precedent and of course the arguments presented to support the case has a tremendous effect on success rate.
- The decision period clock only starts ticking once the application is validated by the Council, This requires then to check that the forms are completed correctly and that the submission contains all the necessary drawings, statements and reports.
- Although required by law to provide a decision within the statutory eight weeks period, it is not uncommon for councils to miss the deadline of the consideration period, normally only by a few days, sometimes longer.
- In some cases the council may ask us as your agent for an extension of time, this may be requested due to internal reasons or as an acceptable result of a professional discussion that we are conducting with them about certain aspects of the application that they are not sure about.
- Our experience shows that planning officers respond better to projects when they feel consulted and collaborated with. We find that when we truly listen to their often helpful and valid feedback and treat them as consultants for the projects and not representative of an evil enforcing authority, they tend to collaborate well with us and demonstrate increased flexibility.
- Although the council in theory have eight weeks to consider your application, in practice they are constantly overloaded. They will only look at your application in the last few days of the consideration period. If this is the first time that they come across a scheme that they were never consulted about, our chance to secure permission for you in a single attempt is significantly compromised.
- The standard practice is for the council to consider the full planning application as submitted and then issue a yes or no decision. Case officers are not required or even encouraged to enter a discussion with us or accept resubmission of minor changes to the proposed scheme during the consideration period.