Richmond is that unique of London neighbourhoods: a true village within the city. Its heritage landscape covers London’s most gracious architectural eras – Georgian, Regency, Victorian – and the built fabric is fiercely protected. Walking the cobbled, lantern-lit streets from park to park feels like a throwback. And yet, if you want to update a home in Richmond, there are many ways to alter a dated floorplan or a poky kitchen.
Expanding or improving a home in Richmond requires permission from the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames. Over 10 years, Scenario Architecture has forged successful relationships with planning departments across London, and will be able to see through a renovation or expansion with a deft hand and compassionate eye. We are one of the most coveted boutique residential architecture practices for our contemporary treatment of heritage London homes.
As young graduates of the Architecture Association, we formed Scenario in 2007, bringing a unique vision for a truly collaborative architecture into being. With our fresh approach to residential architecture in historic homes, we’ve built up a portfolio of striking projects that speak to the changing lifestyles of today’s Londoners. A highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding of each client. Scenario’s tailor-made homes tell a story about their owners’ needs and ambitions – not about ourselves.
We were already considered one of the top practices working in London when our landmark project Scenario House was shortlisted for the RIBA London Awards in 2018. A Victorian conversion with sweeping spaces, soaring ceilings and singular details, it demonstrates our commitment to period properties and the modern needs of Londoners today. Homeowners seeking architects, Richmond based, should examine its fresh, customised approach to a typical London heritage home.
Your Richmond project
Are you looking into architects for a residential project in Richmond? Scenario can help. We’ve put together an illustrated rundown of the architectural process to help you understand what it entails, whether you’re planning to extend your home or renovate – or even build a new home entirely.
Home renovations and extensions must be approved by the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames. Our successful track record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients will be of use when you set out to navigate that process. We will work collaboratively with Richmond officials to see through your application.
Discover if your chosen architect has had success steering planning applications through your local council. Visit the Camden Council website, click on “Planning and Building Control”, go into the search engine for planning applications and type in your agent’s name.
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
At Scenario Architecture, we tackle residential architecture of every scale and scope. We’ve taken on interior refurbishments and full renovations in the most historic homes, establishing a logical contrast between old and new. From our London studio, we offer a totally bespoke service with our team of highly skilled architects.
We collaborate closely with all our clients from the initial meetings and drawings, through planning, tender and construction. We complete all our projects on time and on budget. If you’re searching for an architect, Richmond based, check out our portfolio of high-end residential projects.
We use 3D design technology in all our work. This Chartered Institute of Building case study – featuring a Scenario Architecture project – demonstrates the benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture. As a RIBA Chartered Practice, Scenario complies with RIBA’s strict health and safety criteria.
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.
Though its neighbours the Sheens were mentioned in the Domesday Book, Richmond came into being during the reign of King Henry VII, the former Earl of Richmond in Yorkshire. He built Richmond Palace on the River Thames, only a few remains of which survive. Ever since, the neighbourhood hosted some of the most recognised names in British lore: writers like Alexander Pope and Virginia Woolf; actors like Richard Burton; royals back to Queen Elizabeth I, who stayed at Richmond Palace en route between Hampton Court and Woodstock.
The allure of Richmond’s location cannot be overstated. It is surrounded by green and blue: deer parks, heaths and golf courses. The spectacular Thames, which dips toward the neighbourhood on both sides, is where sculls and pleasure-boats glide all year long – to stroll along the river on a sunny morning is to be thrust back some 300 years. Just upriver is Sion Park, with its 16th-century crenellations. Downstream is Marble Hill, one of a handful of grand, old houses where wealthy city types stayed centuries ago. Abutting the old deer park is Kew Gardens, which recently reopened Temperate House, a hanger-sized Victorian glasshouse. Some say there are 2,500 deer living in the park today.
The District Line will whiz you into the City, yet breaking away from the bustle of town is easy when you’re living in Richmond, with Heathrow Airport barely 30 minutes away and all of the West Country beyond. Old Windsor is closer to Richmond than Soho.
The elegant Georgian townhouses abutting the park and lining the river bear special heritage status – they deserve it, having escaped the worst of the bombs during the Second World War. If you were after a home with history, though, you’d find a wealth of them, resembling the finest in mien and stature. A brown-brick cottage with a white picket fence, a Regency terrace as graceful as any in Kensington, a detached Georgian with a park view… they’re all available in Richmond, and each can be tailored to the needs of a growing family. Not only are the houses protected by conservation rules, but the bakeries, the schools, pubs and hotels. So even if you’ve opted to live somewhere new, your views will forever be “period”.
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.
Planning in Richmond Upon Thames
We offer extensive services in Richmond Upon Thames for homeowners looking to renovate. This London borough is one of the wealthiest, containing many properties that showcase historical architecture. Consequently, many residents embark on restoration projects or renovations to modernise their homes for how we live today.
As a leading architect in Richmond, we know that there are many questions to ask before renovating a property in this area. Most specifically, many of our clients come to us asking about planning permission in this London borough. How does one go about acquiring permission to conduct certain renovations, when is it needed, and so on.
Is it hard to get planning permission in Richmond?
As you may be aware, Richmond upon Thames is notorious for its strict planning permission regulations. The planning officers are keen to respect traditional where possible, not wanting to disrupt the natural equilibrium of the area. There are some very strict rules in place and a series of Conservation Areas to be aware of. In total, Richmond has 85 conservation areas, with each one carrying its own statement. The idea with an area like this is that it has special architectural or historic interest that needs to be preserved or enhanced.
Not only that but there are lots of listed buildings within the borough of Richmond as well. A listed building is a property that has been placed on the Statutory List of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Special consent is needed before these buildings can be altered in any way.
Of course, there are properties outside of conservation areas – and ones that aren’t listed buildings – in Richmond as well. These properties are the easiest to gain planning permission for, but you still have to go through the process of acquiring it.
Is it possible to get planning permission in a Conservation Area?
Yes, you can acquire planning permission to extend or alter a building within one of Richmond’s 85 Conservation Areas. However, you also need to apply for Conservation Area Consent. This is a completely different form of permission, which is granted by an external force.
Thus, you need to submit two applications; one for Conservation Area Consent, and one for Planning Permission in Richmond. It isn’t uncommon for homeowners to end up with approval in one of these categories, yet not the other. Rest assured, you need both before you can legally renovate a property in one of the Conservation Areas in Richmond.
Is it possible to get planning permission for Listed Buildings in Richmond?
Once more, it is definitely possible to obtain the right permissions to renovate a listed building in this London borough. Damaging or making alterations to a listed building is actually considered a criminal offence. Therefore, you want to avoid making any plans or starting any work until you are 100% certain that you’re been granted the correct permissions.
Similar to Conservation Areas, listed buildings require two levels of approval. Firstly, you need to get listed building consent directly from Historic England. Once this has been granted, you can proceed with your planning application to the Richmond Council. Here, you need an extensive list of documents that detail everything about your property. This includes supporting documents from any professionals that will be working on your home – such as architects, consultants, engineers, and so on.
Why is the final step necessary? Because it gives the council confidence that you will undertake a responsible renovation job that doesn’t ruin the building. If you submit an application with no support from any suppliers or contractors, it will most likely be rejected.
How do you apply for planning permission in Richmond?
Regardless of what category your property falls into, you will need to submit a planning application to the Richmond Council. The council itself recommends that you do this online via the Planning Portal. There’s a £25 fee for doing this, and the process will look something like this:
- Check if permission is required – Firstly, head to the Planning Portal site and check if your property requires any planning permission at all. It’s rare, but some properties and buildings in Richmond don’t need any permission to carry out renovations. Checking is just a way of staying safe.
- Fill in the right form – There are lots of different planning application forms available, and the one you choose will depend on what your project entails. It helps to work with professionals like ourselves to understand which form you need to fill in. This can avoid lots of confusion and stress if you fill in the wrong form.
- Ensure you have all the right evidence – On the form, you will be asked to provide a host of evidence or supporting documents with your application. Be sure that you have all of these as it prevents any stoppages in the process.
- Submit your application – Finally, you can send off your application and wait for the outcome.
At this point, Richmond Council will contact you with the results of your application – or if they require any additional information. If you get the all-clear, you can start preparing for your renovation. If your application is denied, you are able to appeal. All appeals are sent to the Planning Inspectorate, and there’s a chance the decision could be reversed.
What are Richmond Village Plans?
One final point to cover, and relates to the fourteen villages in Richmond. Interestingly, each village in this borough will have its own planning policy called a Village Plan. This goes alongside the Richmond Local Plan, and you need to read up on it.
Sadly, the Village Plans aren’t easy to find – and they change rapidly. By working with a local architect like Scenario Architecture, you can find these plans and understand the specific policies in place relating to the village you’re based in.
In summary, there’s a plethora of knowledge to know about planning in Richmond. It’s a difficult borough to deal with, but it is still very possible to acquire the right planning permission for your project.