On the definition of scale and layout

The following case provides useful guidance in respect of the definition of scale and layout in relation to reserved matters applications.

A Somerset council had costs awarded against it at appeal after refusing a reserved matters application on the basis that the mix of houses proposed, in terms of sizes and number of bedrooms, failed to reflect the identified local need within the sub-market housing area or the district as a whole (DCS Number 400-011-800).

The application sought the approval of reserved matters in respect of layout, scale, appearance and landscaping. The council contended that the issue of housing mix was relevant to the consideration of layout and scale.

The inspector decided that Article 2(1) of The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 includes definitions which provide a helpful starting point and a legal basis for determining what can and cannot be considered at the reserved matters stage. He noted that the term scale is defined as “the height, width and length of each building proposed within the development in relation to its surroundings”, and that layout should be interpreted to mean “the way in which buildings, routes and open spaces within the development are provided, situated and orientated in relation to each other and to buildings and spaces outside the development”. He agreed that the number of bedrooms contained within a dwelling is proportional to its size. However, he found that it would be stretching a point to argue that a local planning authority has influence over the configuration of the internal accommodation, simply by virtue of its ability under the Order to exercise control over the external dimensions. The phraseology used within the Order indicated to him that the issues of scale and layout are principally concerned with the manner in which the buildings physically relate to one another and their surroundings and are not a mechanism for controlling the mix of housing.

Awarding costs against the council, the inspector concluded that housing mix was not a legitimate matter for consideration given the absence of any condition on the outline permission.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 5.132

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