Queens Head House, Amble, Northumberland

Queens Head House lies in the conservation area of Amble town on the Northumberland coast, in a walled enclosure on the crest of the coastal escarpment. It was once the stable yard of the 19thC inn after which it is named.  A classic example of brownfield back-land development, its last use was for 16 lock-up garages.

Our design turned the house “upside down” with a 100% glazed wall at first floor, to take full advantage of the amazing light reflected off the sea and the far reaching panoramic coastal views across the River Coquet estuary and its attractive yacht harbour, to the open sea beyond.

This simple white rectangular house is a contemporary interpretation of the local vernacular, inspired by the traditional white painted fishermen’s cottages with their slate roofs. The upper floor combines living, kitchen and dining in a single space, with other windows and rooflights strategically placed to bring in southern sun (the panoramic window is north facing) and give more intimate local views out whilst maintaining privacy. A small balcony off the living area provides a sunny spot for morning coffee and gives access via steps to the walled courtyard garden below.  The ground floor comprises entrance hall, master bedroom with ensuite, two further bedrooms, family bathroom, study and utility room.  Patio doors give all bedrooms access to the courtyard garden.

We achieved Planning Permission, after two failed applications by others, for the first new house allowed in the Amble conservation area since it was established 10 years ago in 2007. We produced 3D photo montages superimposed onto distant views to justify development on this sensitive “skyline” site, visible from afar.  Unusual planning conditions required close liaison by us with the Conservation Officer to procure an archaeological dig, as the site lies in close proximity to a local ancient monument, and to carry out a coal mining survey for potential subsidence and mine gas.