The pendulum swings

The oscillations of the planning system in accord with contemporary political thinking are always fascinating to observe.

It seems like only yesterday that every last back garden was being sized up for its potential for residential development, residential curtilages being identified as brownfield land and accordingly suitable to make a contribution towards the nation’s housing land supply. In fact, it was in March 2012 that the pendulum reached the limit of its arc, garden grabbing having got out of hand, and the NPPF defining previously developed land as excluding land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens.

A recent appeal against the refusal of permission for two bungalows in the rear garden of a house in a suburban area in Yorkshire (DCS Number 400-011-910) shows just how much things have changed in that time. The inspector held that the position of the proposed dwellings would be at odds with the overall pattern of development, where the vast majority of properties had a street frontage. Furthermore, a supplementary planning document was an up-to-date part of the local policy framework, adopted in 2012, and sought to prevent backland development. The properties would not have a street frontage and thus would not actively contribute to the wider streetscene or assist in reinforcing a sense of place. Moreover, he considered that the proposed driveway, with a width of some six metres, and the curtilage parking beyond, would create a sizeable area of hard standing that would cover a substantial part of the appeal site. He recognised that there were at least two other lengthy accesses serving backland development near to the site but found that these were an anomaly in an area where the predominant pattern of development was of dwellings with a street frontage. He pointed out that the arrangement was historic and had been undertaken prior to the current policy context. It did not set a desirable precedent for the development proposed which would cause material harm to the established character and appearance of the area, he concluded.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 7.1326

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