Defending the sustainability test for barn conversions

Planning permission for a barn conversion in Gloucestershire has recently been turned down at appeal, the inspector finding that it was located in an unsustainable location (DCS Number 200-005-778). The inspector found a high probability that there would be a high dependency on the private car to access services and on that basis the proposal would conflict with local plan policy.

The appellants argued that the proposal could occur without the need for planning permission, but the inspector noted that an earlier proposal under the GPDO had been refused by the council. The inspector acknowledged that the GPDO does not attach a sustainability test in respect of the location of agricultural buildings where it is proposed to convert into a dwelling, but held that the policies of the development plan were clear that the location of development needed to be sustainable. The proposal before her related to an application for planning permission and she therefore maintained that she was required to determine it in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicated otherwise. She concluded that the location of the appeal site conflicted with the settlement strategy for the area and was not in a sustainable location. The tests applied to development permitted under the GPDO did not outweigh the harm, she decided.

So, the residential conversion of the barn would not have been refused on sustainability grounds if it had been permitted development, but must be refused on sustainability grounds because it needs planning permission. The Blog would be hard put to defend the logic of this to the appellant. Would readers be able to assist?

The following DCP section is relevant: 10.1361

2 Responses to “Defending the sustainability test for barn conversions”

  1. Steve Parish

    If a high dependency on the private car to access services equals “unsustainable” that rules out most rural development now that bus services have been decimated.

  2. John Jowitt

    I had exactly the same argument from the Inspectorate fon a planning application ollowing approval of a PD office to residential conversion in Birmingham last year (3140506). Would have loved to have been able to challenge that one!

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