Definition of a carriage house: “a small building for housing coaches, carriages and other vehicles.”
I’m all for carriage houses, granny flats, laneway homes and any other type of creative housing that’s under 750 square feet and keeps elderly parents close by, increases density where it makes sense, and provides more rental space. What I really hate is when developers bend the rules to create large footprints and unaffordable houses.
Chesterfield House, North Vancouver
Last year I was at a heritage commission meeting when a proposal for a mega house next to a heritage property red-flagged our planner. It turned out that Chesterfield House and a small piece of garden next to it, had sold the year before for around $1 million and new owners had put it back on the market for $1.8 million and wanted to develop the corner lot—currently the front entrance for the tenants.
To back up a minute, Chesterfield House, designed by architect Harry Blackadder, is a lovely old 1913 apartment building, which until the 1940s, was a boy’s day and boarding school. The eaves of the building hang over the property line—which is a little corner piece of land. Turns out the two pieces of land were separately zoned single-family lots and developers wanted to bulldoze the hollies, laburnums, black walnuts, cherry tree and rose garden on the tiny lot and replace them with a large house placed smack in the middle of the site and blocking the view of the heritage house.
Temporary Protection Order
Unless a house is designated—and only a handful are in North Vancouver—then commissions and councils for that matter, have little input—well we have input, just nobody need listen. In this case, council slapped a Temporary Heritage Protection order on the property, to come up with an alternative.
Meetings were held, plans flew back and forth, and we members of the commission all high-fived each other when developers agreed to build two carriage houses on the site and keep the common pathway and some of the landscaping.
I decided to take a drive by yesterday to check out our handy work. I was naively surprised to see two five bedroom, 2,400-plus square foot homes sitting on the lot, each with an asking price of $1.3 million—a lot more I would guess than a developer could have dreamed of from the sale of one large monster house. The back of the houses are just a couple of feet from the front of Chesterfield house, giving tenants a view of the big blank wall.
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