On the ground

Once a settlement boundary has been defined it is easy to see it as fixed and not to be breached. However, an inspector dealing with an appeal against the refusal of outline permission for a house in the green belt in Essex took account of case law set out in Julian Wood v SoS and Gravesham Borough Council [2015] which found that the term “village” is not necessarily the same as a settlement boundary, and that there is a need to consider the facts on the ground (DCS Number 400-016-397).

In Julian Wood an appeal had been made against the refusal of planning permission for a single dwelling on a site which lay in the green belt but was surrounded by existing development. The court considered that the main issue was the interpretation of Paragraph 89 of the NPPF which provides that “limited infilling in villages” is an exception to the general rule that the construction of new buildings is inappropriate in the green belt. The court ruled that the policy required the decision-maker to consider whether, as a matter of fact on the ground, the site appeared to be in the village. The court found that the fact that the site lay outside the village boundary as designated in the development plan was not determinative; the inspector had misdirected himself as to the proper meaning of paragraph 89 in limiting himself to considering whether the proposal was within the designated village boundary.

In (DCS Number 400-016-397) the inspector did not consider that the proposal could reasonably be considered as infill. Furthermore, he concluded that “the facts on the ground in this case are that the appeal site does not lie within a village for planning policy purposes; either in terms of settlement boundaries and the facts on the ground. Accordingly, the proposal whilst limited in the form of one dwelling, would not represent limited infilling in a village.”

The following DCP section is relevant: 9.1331

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