THE eco-mansion which stunned planners over two years ago is finally taking shape.
Novelist Mark Burnell and his wife Isabelle now anticipate the moment when The Paise, a run-down farmhouse just outside Hexham, becomes a green- energy family home.
The super-modern design, featuring an insulated suspended floor, reed-bed filtration, glazed walls, a pre-insulated roof, pv and solar panels and a wind turbine has come off the drawing board into reality.
A swimming pool includes a heating element for the house, and the energy savings will in the long run recoup much, if not all, of the financial outlay.
Work on the site at Lowgate is now under way, six years after the Burnells first dreamed up the design, and 26 months after the concept first went before county planners.
Thriller writer Mark,47, said: “Work has started and it is now full-speed ahead. Although we have not set any target date, I would think it would be complete by early autumn.
“We made a decision to stick to what we originally planned, and we have done that, although there are always minor details.
“The weather is the only big variable, but if we have a decent winter like last year we should be on course for next autumn.”
The 450 acres of The Paise lies within the North Pennines Special Protection Area and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which meant special planning considerations were demanded from the outset.
In January last year planners nervous at the progressiveness of the project delayed a decision, but finally gave the green light.
They felt granting planning permission too quickly could set a precedent for other future applications, but finally agreed that the proposal was too good to refuse.
Described as an innovative, groundbreaking “Cragside for the 21st Century”, The Paise project was praised from all sides and blazed a trail for environment- friendly design on the grand scale.
“It was very gratifying to win the planners over, and I was also very pleased for our architects,” said Mark, whose family has owned the land for generations.
“We first had the idea six years ago and looked into the feasibility then. There was a lot of advance planning and refinement of design, but now the day when it is built and complete is in sight.”
Mark, Isabelle and their children live 400 yards away across the rolling fields, at West Greenridge Farm, and can look out of their windows every day at the progress of the building work.
Low-carbon experts Newton Architects, of Ryton, Gateshead, won the contract and company partner Liam, who works with his father Malcolm, said: “A lot of the technology we have at The Paise is tried and tested, but it is the way it has all been pulled together in one building that is the thing.”