Posts Categorized: Beat the system

An isolated case



Regular readers will be aware that in a couple of posts we have drawn attention to the lack of a definition for ‘isolated’ in the NPPF; Nature abhors a vacuum and  ‘Isolation’ – Now we’re getting somewhere. Readers might also be aware that the matter has been addressed recently in the High Court – Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017].  Here on the Blog we have been keeping watch for an appeal case which refers to this court ruling in order to understand its impact in practice, and a useful example has come up in Worcestershire (DCS Number 400-017-452). This case involves the conversion of storage buildings adjacent to a village settlement boundary to three dwellings. Despite being identified as being within open countryside, the site was not isolated, the inspector concluded:

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New to the area



Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that local planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances. These circumstances include the exceptional quality or innovative nature of the design of the dwelling. This is national policy; it’s in the name.

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Dig deep



Subterranean houses in the rural area are proposed not infrequently, their below ground design being a response to concern about their impact on the landscape. Whilst they can achieve a measure of success, their potential to increase car travel will often count against them. In a more unusual case in east London an appellant has gained planning permission, having applied the same design principle to concern about the character and appearance of the suburban area (DCS Number 400-016-586). In these circumstances, of course, there is no issue in relation to the sustainability credentials of the location.

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Hug a tree



We were surprised, and a little alarmed, to find the following information in an appeal against a tree replacement notice relating to trees felled in southwest Scotland (DCS Number 400-015-800):

“The English publication “Tree Preservation Orders : A Guide to the Law and Good Practice” (2005) indicates that a provision in a tree preservation order prohibiting cutting down or removal of independent trees or groups of trees only applies to trees in existence at the time the order was made.”

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Use or abuse



Paragraph 112 of the NPPF states:

“Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.”

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Negative thoughts



In GPDO overrides use condition we reported an appeal case in which an inspector found that a condition stating that ‘the premises shall be used only for purposes falling within Class B1’ did not prevent the exercise of GPDO rights to convert the former barn to a dwelling. A recent court case, Dunnett Investments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 29/3/17 appears to support his view.

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Born in a barn



In Defending the sustainability test for barn conversions the Blog highlighted the illogicality of there being different sustainability criteria for barn conversion proposals according to whether they require prior approval or planning permission. In a recent case in Sussex (DCS Number 400-014-208) the appellant succeeded in using the fallback of a prior approval for residential conversion of a barn as a lever to gain planning permission for replacement with a new dwelling, and in so doing showed just how pointless this difference in treatment is.

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