With the current vogue for all things vintage, handmade and homely it is no surprise to see a proposal for a new country cottage. However, a cottage style residence in a ‘traditional’ orchard in Warwickshire would appear incongruous in a village conservation area, an inspector decided (DCS Number 400-011-575).
The inspector considered that the introduction of a dwelling of essentially suburban appearance, notwithstanding genuflections to an agricultural lifestyle of a bygone age, would appear as a random insertion in the rural fringe of the conservation area and would neither preserve its character nor its appearance. The tidying up of the unkempt rural land might conceivably improve its appearance, if formality and tidiness were necessarily considered to be more desirable, he opined, but its essential character would not be enhanced. On the contrary, he considered that the somewhat suburban dwelling set within surrounding vegetation of contrived rural character would fail to overcome the artificiality of the proposed development in context, leading to an impression of incongruity. The proposal could not be said to make a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness, contrary to the exhortation of the NPPF, he concluded.
Whilst siding with the inspector in not wishing to see the Disneyfication of the countryside one could not blame the appellant, on reading this decision, for pointing to paragraph 60 of the NPPF which states “Planning … decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes…” A new country cottage might not be to everyone’s taste but when thwarting dreams of living the rural idyll we need to reflect very carefully about whether it is justified in the context of the development plan and other material considerations, which must include full consideration of paragraph 60 of the NPPF.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 9.1326