About Me

Although this blog is mainly about rural design, most of my work to date has been on urban projects. I trained as an architect at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and worked at Conran & Partners from 1987 to 2010, for the last nine years as a Director.

In my time with C&P I built up wide-ranging experience in complex urban developments including the regeneration of Butlers Wharf in London, the Bluebird garage in Chelsea and Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh. More recently I led large-scale regeneration projects for Defence Estates in Catterick, Land Securities/Delancey at Notting Hill Gate and Waterhouse at Brewery Square in Dorchester, and was responsible for the planning and design of the Martinhal resort near Sagres in the Algarve. Smaller-scale residential projects include Hus22, a development of eco-houses at Drayton near Norwich, for Abel Homes. In 2010 I joined Wymondham-based practice Lucas Hickman Smith.

I have written numerous articles on residential design, and have lectured on the subject for Design for Homes and Architecture Week. I have served as a judge on the South Norfolk Design Awards and the NAA Craftsmanship Awards and am a member Greater Norwich Partnership Design Review Panel.

4 Responses to About Me

  1. Reece says:


    Im just studying for my finals at university and found this site really helpful. However can you link to me to any more case studies, preferably showing a comparison between the pre 2010 planning system and the stage it is at today?


    Reece Pointing

  2. Matt Wood says:

    Hi Reece,

    I think the key planning changes proposed by the Localism Bill, notably the Neighbourhood Plan process and the Community Right to Build, are meant to work alongside the conventional planning system of Local Development Frameworks, rather than replace it…indeed many commentators say that the new processes will work against or in conflict with the planning system, rather than slotting seamlessly in…so I’m not sure it’s right to talk of a ‘pre-2010 planning system’. In fact the Local Development Framework system is itself fairly rececent (replacing old style Local Plans in 2004 or 2005, I think) and was itself also intended to make local strategic planning more flexible and accountable to its local community. To be honest I can’t really point you at anything else, as I’m not really a planning specialist; I’m just a humble architect! Perhaps try the RTPI website, or RUDI.net

    Good luck in your finals…and in getting to grips with the current upheaval; join the club!


  3. rob MacCurrach says:

    Matt, I read your report in Quarterly Journal of Forestry; I’m a Chartered Forester working mostly in Wales but living at Kington on the Herefordshire border. I share your vision of ruralisation, although my own interest is to get more people living on and partly living off the land. You might have come across Simon Fairlie (edits The Land) who is also an advocate of “ruralisation”.

    We own a mature plantation close to where we live where we would like to build an “ecohouse”, and maybe some eco-cabins for tourism. We haven’t even spoken to the planners yet, but many of us involved in environmentalism are keen to get hold of land for building and meeting some of our needs. I believe that as economic realities force us all to adjust how we live, planning attitudes should favour ruralisation.

    You might be interested in a local practice Archihaus that has partnered with a Swedish friend who wishes to build rural housing, fabricated locally from timber, to passivhaus standard, and at lower density allowing for aspirations to do serious vegetable gardening. I believe they have just won their first planning permission for a housing development south of Hereford. The village neighbours were opposed to the doubling in size of their community, I believe.

    regarding forest development, the rooting conditions are critical as you have observed; Such sites are uncommon. However there is much poor agricultural land, or even abused arable land that could produce more in a rurualised society where time is unwillingly more freely available in an underemployed economy.

    Regards, Rob

  4. Matt Wood says:

    Hi Rob,
    Sorry I missed this comment when you posted it (I’ve had some terrible problems with spam on the site, which I hope are now resolved). Glad you found Forest Village interesting. I checked out the Archihaus scheme at Hereford; very interesting. They did well to get that consent – though it looks like the 5-year land-supply problem was the key factor rather than the nature of the scheme. How Depressing! How are you getting on with your house and cabins?
    Email me at Lucas Hickman Smith if you want to discuss.

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