One of the city’s top small architectural practices, London-based Scenario has been designing high-end, hard-working contemporary homes around the capital for more than a decade. Our contemporary house designs have featured in Elle Decoration, Dezeen and Houzz, and we’ve been shortlisted for several prestigious architecture prizes – including the 2018 RIBA London Awards for our landmark project, Scenario House.
In 2007, we established a boutique architecture practice in London with a uniquely collaborative process. Our clients’ objectives for high-functioning first-class architecture inform each of our modern house designs. Liveable, aspirational homes are the product of great communication and a firm understanding of every individual’s unique lifestyle. This understanding shows in our work, and it’s made Scenario one of the best small architectural practices in London.
If you’re considering a high-end residential architectural practice, London based, we’re here to help, whether you’re tackling a renovation, extension or new-build.
Most architecture projects in London require planning permission from the local council. With our successful record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients, we can claim home advantage across the capital.
We’ve created a brief illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of the process.
Discover if your architect has had success steering planning applications through your local council. Visit the “planning applications” page of your council’s website and enter the architect’s name in the search criteria.
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
One of the top architectural practices in London, Scenario is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around the capital. Through our bespoke architecture service, we tackle projects of every scale and complexity, from interior alterations and refurbishments to full renovations and new-builds.
Our highly skilled team can walk you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your new space. We collaborate closely with our clients from the initial drawings, detail design and planning through tender and construction to the project’s successful completion. On time and on budget.
We use innovative 3D design and visualisation tools as a standard for all projects. Our experience shows that real-time visualisations and virtual reality are efficient tools for choosing finishes, fixtures and fittings, and simulating natural light.
Our expertise with 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology produces reliable construction information, so all our project data comes from an accurate 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with consultants and contractors saves our clients time and money. A Chartered Institute of Building case study featuring a Scenario project demonstrates the great benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture.
Scenario Architecture is a RIBA Chartered Practice. We comply with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management systems.
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.
British architects are some of the most distinguished and highly trained in the world. The long and noble history of creating good quality architecture across the British Isles has given our architecture schools a strong foundation, excellent instructors and a rich history of heritage properties. Beyond that, commitment within the industry to good-quality contemporary architecture and the pursuit of cutting-edge techniques and styles has pushed the nation’s architects to the top of the heap. Architecture practices in London and beyond from the Royal Institute of British Architects keep up with developments in technology and building codes as well as social codes, creating a contented work atmosphere on site.
To find a highly qualified, trustworthy architect, the RIBA website and its great cache of resources should be your first step. A professional membership body and watchdog, RIBA provides all the tools you need for discovering the best practitioners. After all, if you’re going to put your most valuable asset in someone else’s hands, it’s worth employing the gold standard: someone educated and experienced in house design, building and the nation’s rigorous planning regulations.
A good architect is a problem-solver: fitting the rhythm of your life into the bones of your home and making sure everything can be achieved legally and financially. A great architect will create a bespoke space deeply attuned to your needs – not just today but in the future – incorporating special touches that make your life happier. Less a costly investment or superfluous expense, a great architect is a value-adder, paying for him or herself over and over. Many homeowners, in an effort to cut costs, end up spending more fixing the mistakes they make themselves or entrust to a layman. RIBA has a project database of more than 40,000 case studies that can match you with precisely the specialist you need for your home within your budget.
Once you’ve found an architect you mesh with personally as well as on paper, the process of transforming your home will go more smoothly, from designing to your personal specifications and pushing those specs through the planning process to dealing with builders, trades and decorators on site. RIBA architects don’t make these claims lightly – their reputation depends on it.
What’s The Difference Between Outline Planning and Permission In Principle?
Before taking on any major building project, it’s essential to apply for planning permission. This ensures that your project is legal and there are no land restrictions in place. Fail to get planning permission and you could be heavily fined or your project may even be ordered to be demolished (which could result in huge amounts of time and money down the drain).
A lot of people don’t realise that there are different types of planning permission – and that in some cases you can even choose between two different types. When proposing a self-build, there are two types of planning that you may be able to apply for: Outline Planning and Permission in Principle. Both types of planning permission have different benefits. This post explains exactly what the difference is between the two and how to tell which one is right for you.
What is Outline Planning?
Outline Planning is the older system of the two. It is used at an early stage to determine whether a proposal is likely to be approved by a planning committee. Unlike full planning permission, you do not have to submit all the details of your project straight away – it simply allows you to know early on whether the land can be built on and whether the basic concept has support. This prevents you wasting money on design and resources on a project that would never have been accepted anyway.
The two stages of Outline Planning include:
Stage 1: (outline planning consent) this involves submitting a brief outline of your project early on to see if it is likely to be accepted in full.
Stage 2: (reserved matters) this involves submitting the details at a later date. At this stage, you’ll already have certainty that you can build on the land and carry out the brief concept of your project – you may simply have to tweak details if they are not approved.
Why choose Outline Planning?
Outline Planning is suitable for building projects of all sizes from building a small home to a large residential estate. When it comes to building entire streets of housing or large apartment blocks it is often the preferred option. It can also be used for small projects such as self-builds.
An advantage of Outline Planning is that it has been around for so long and some planning committees are more comfortable with it when it comes to complex residential projects. A building that is to be evenly used for residential and commercial usage may benefit more from Outline Planning than Permission In Principle.
What is Permission in Principle?
Permission in Principle is the newer system of the two, having only been introduced as recently as 2016. It was introduced as a simplified version of Outline Planning to help make applying for planning permission easier.
Like Outline Planning, you do not have to submit all the details of your project straight away. It is made up of two similar stages.
Stage 1: (Permission in Principle stage) this is used to determine whether the site is appropriate for your proposed project.
Stage 2: (technical details consent) this is the stage where you then get any details approved. By this stage, you’ll already be certain that you can build on your chosen land.
Unlike Outline Planning, Permission in Principle is targeted at smaller residential projects. To apply for this type of planning permission the project must meet these criteria:
— It must consist of no more than 1 to 9 dwellings.
— It must occupy a total development space of under 1000 square metres.
— It must be on a site under 1 hectare.
— The majority of the floorspace must be used for residential use. Any commercial usage should be limited
Consequently, Permission in Principle tends to be well-suited to self-builds and small-scale housing developments. On top of being more simplified than Outline Planning, it is also generally the more affordable option.
Why choose Permission in Principle?
If you’re planning a self-build on an area of land less than a hectare, you may find that this form of planning permission is ideal for you. The simplified approach of Permission in Principle can make it much easier to negotiate than Outline Planning. Unless you’re planning something fairly complex, you may prefer to stick to this form of planning permission.
The Permission in Principle application is also cheaper, making it ideal for those on a tight budget. If you’re unsure as to whether your plans will be accepted and don’t want to spend huge amounts of money on something that could well be rejected, applying for Permission in Principle could save you some money.
Outline Planning vs Permission in Principle: A quick summary
The pros and cons of each are as follows:
The pros of Outline Planning
— Ideal for projects of all sizes
— Better suited to complex projects in which residential and commercial usage may be blurred
The cons of Outline Planning
— Application process is more complex than Permission in Principle
— Typically costs more than Permission in Principle process
The pros of Permission in Principle
— A simplified application process for simple construction projects
— More affordable than Outline Planning
The cons of Permission in Principle
— Not suitable for large building projects
— Not suitable for heavily commercial projects (projects should be primarily residential)
Deciding between Outline Planning and Permission in Principle
You may still not know which planning permission route is right for you. Possibly the best way to choose between the two could be to consult in the advice of an architect. There are architectural practices in London that can help you to work out the best suited route for you.
An architect may also be able to help you with the application process itself. With the help of an architect, you can also be sure that any plans submitted are professionally designed. Start searching now for a suitable architect to work with so that you can get your project underway.
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.