A Home in the High Weald AONB

Chestnut Cottage is a modest home designed for a couple and their dog, nestled in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Surrounded by a picturesque orchard garden, the dwelling harmoniously blends with its surroundings, drawing inspiration from the colours and textures found in the High Weald.

Obtaining planning permission for Chestnut Cottage was an intricate and thorough process, considering the specific site conditions and environmental concerns. Challenges included creating site access and building within the root protection areas of a beautiful chestnut tree and mature beech trees. The site also fell within a red impact risk zone for great crested newts, necessitating close collaboration with the Wealden District Council. This collaborative approach resulted in a detailed planning application that adhered to environmental considerations and council regulations.

Project Status: Pre-construction

Local Authority: Wealden District Council

Project Size: 173 sqm


Early concept image exploring materials and form of the house. The first floor is charred larch and the ground floor a cottage red brick, the roof, standing seam steel. We find these early models really help to bring the project to life for our clients, as well as being a powerful and essential design tool.


Our clients required a three-bedroom home with an ensuite/dressing room for the main bedroom, a family bathroom on the first floor, an open-plan kitchen-diner and sunroom providing a seamless connection to the garden, a separate living room, a downstairs WC, a utility room, and a space for occasional office use. 

The first-floor layout includes a main bedroom with its own gable form and vaulted ceiling, offering breathtaking views of the orchard garden. The secondary bedrooms are nestled in the eaves, benefiting from L-shaped roof lights/windows. A study nook efficiently utilises the first-floor landing space.

A "broken plan" concept was employed to maintain openness while delineating distinct areas. Visual connections were established through elements like open shelves between the sunroom and the sitting room. Defined doorway openings, such as the one separating the kitchen-diner from the sunroom, created separation. Bi-fold doors are being considered to provide additional flexibility.


At Studio Bloom, we prioritise sustainable design practices to minimise environmental impact and create energy-efficient homes. Chestnut Cottage exemplifies our commitment to sustainability by carefully selecting materials and integrating eco-friendly features.

To ensure energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint, Chestnut Cottage incorporates an air source heat pump and solar panels. The air source heat pump harnesses renewable energy from the air for heating and hot water, while the solar panels generate clean electricity, reducing reliance on traditional energy sources.

A mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system enhances indoor air quality while recovering heat from outgoing air to warm incoming fresh air. This system improves comfort, reduces energy consumption, and promotes a healthier living environment.

For construction, Chestnut Cottage utilises Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) known for their excellent thermal insulation, reducing heat loss and improving energy efficiency. The use of SIPs also contributes to a faster construction process and minimises waste.


Sustainable and traditionally aesthetic materials, with a modern twist are used within the exterior of the house. Charred larch cladding provides a unique and contemporary aesthetic, drawing on the Wealden Vernacular; this material eliminates the need for chemical treatments and extends its lifespan. The Greencoat Urban standing seam steel roof boasts sustainability with a high-recycled content and a long lifespan, reducing the need for future replacements.

Brick slips are applied to the SIPs at the ground floor level, requiring less material build-up than a traditional brick skin and giving more interior space through a reduced wall thickness. A Brise Soleil at the rear of the house prevents overheating and unwanted solar gain, optimising passive solar design principles and reducing the reliance on cooling systems.

The beautiful Orchard Site for Chestnut Cottage.

Chestnut Cottage is currently under construction.

This case study will be updated shortly.


Do you have an empty site, a tiny plot of land, a sizable back garden or a lapsed planning permission that isn't making your heart sing?Contact us today to learn more about the design process and how Studio Bloom can help you realise your dream project.