The Newt in Somerset - Aerial of walled garden (image: client)
The Newt in Somerset - Main house (image: client)
The Newt in Somerset - Greenhouse (image: client)
The Newt in Somerset - Cottage (image: client)

The Newt in Somerset

Development planning


The Newt in Somerset is a major new visitor attraction in Somerset, and represents a comprehensive and high-quality approach to rural landscape and building design on a scale not seen since Victorian times. Now open to the public after four years of construction, it has received widespread praise in the national press and specialist interest publications.

AZ Urban Studio has led on all planning aspects of the project from the outset in 2013, and has secured a range of major planning permissions and listed building consents across this large rural Estate

A productive landscape

Our planning team had for many years advised the Hobhouse family, previous owners of the Estate, and we were delighted to be retained by the new owners to advise on planning matters when the Estate changed ownership in 2013. The ambition of the new owners was to breathe new life into what had been a private family Estate for the previous 400 years, and open it up to the public to showcase a traditional and productive landscape, with associated formal gardens and refurbished and new buildings to service guests and the needs of a productive Estate. In the traditional country Estate manner The Newt provides a sustainable ecosystem of production, where the landscape is managed and cultivated to provide the best local food and materials – ranging from a deer park, kitchen gardens, new orchards and a mushroom house, to managed woodlands where timber for Estate building projects is harvested. An historical context to the inhabitation and cultivation of the landscape is also to be provided by two major museums at The Newt, together with a reconstructed Roman Villa and gardens.

The process

Over a five year period we have secured for our clients at The Newt a series of complex planning permissions and associated listed building consents, many of these being major applications and engaging sensitive heritage, ecology, archaeology and transport matters. In each case we have worked closely with South Somerset District Council, Historic England, and local stakeholders through pre-application discussions to shape what has become one of the most significant rural diversification projects in the country. The project demonstrates the value of working closely with the local planning authority in a positive, problem-solving manner, and we remain grateful for their continued input and dialogue.

Inevitably with a project of this scale amendments and new elements emerge along the way, and this has required various minor material amendment applications over time, together with separate new applications as the ambition, and the Estate, have grown.

"The Newt in Somerset is unlike anything any of us has seen since the heyday of the Victorians" - Lisa Grainger The Telegraph

The product - what others have said

Upon opening to the public in Spring 2019 The Newt in Somerset immediately received recognition in the national press for delivering quality buildings and landscape transformation on a scale very rarely seen in modern times. It has been an honour and a delight for our team at AZ Urban Studio to be at the heart of shaping and delivering the projects that cumulatively make up The Newt in Somerset. Please follow the links below to see publications covering the project:

First look at Gardens of The Newt in Sommerset – The Telegraph

Britains glorious new garden – The Daily Mail

The Newt Somerset – The Caterer

The Newt in Somerset - Cottage (image: client)

Key components

Delivering the project has involved a series of permissions, comprising a small number of core permissions, and a series of further or related permission. Listed below are the key components:

  • Permission granted for construction of shop, café, restaurant, cider production centre, glasshouses, Estate office and service buildings, access enhancements, new visitor and staff car parks, all in association with change of use of gardens and parkland to a visitor attraction (2015)
  • Permission granted for change of use of stables and granary to guest accommodation (2015)
  • Permission granted for change of use of existing industrial buildings and erection of new buildings for Estate storage, wood chip store, greenhouses and polytunnel, storage yard (2017)
  • Permission granted for Estate energy centre (2016) and subsequent extension (2018)
  • Permission granted for change of use of Hadspen House (Grade II listed), Clock House and Barton Buildings to hotel, restaurant and spa and associated demolition, extensions and alterations (2016)
  • Permission granted for underpass for vehicles, pedestrians and livestock and realignment of A371 (2016)
  • Permission granted for new museum building (2017)
  • Permission granted for elevated walkway through tree canopy (2017)
  • Permission granted for change of use of Shatwell House and associated buildings to hotel use and associated rebuilding, extensions and alterations (2017)
  • Permission granted for construction of apiary (bee house) and associated landscaping (2018)
  • Permission granted for demolition of barns and erection of replacement buildings for staff accommodation (2018)
  • Permission granted for new gymnasium building (2018)
  • Permission granted for replacement dwelling with detached garage, stables and associated landscape works (2018)
  • Permission granted for new museum building to partially cover and preserve archaeological remains, construction of replica Roman Villa (museum use) and associated landscape works (2019)
  • Permission granted for change of use of existing outbuilding to Estate archive and associated alterations (2019)


Back to featured projects