An isolated case

Regular readers will be aware that in a couple of posts we have drawn attention to the lack of a definition for ‘isolated’ in the NPPF; Nature abhors a vacuum and  ‘Isolation’ – Now we’re getting somewhere. Readers might also be aware that the matter has been addressed recently in the High Court – Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017].  Here on the Blog we have been keeping watch for an appeal case which refers to this court ruling in order to understand its impact in practice, and a useful example has come up in Worcestershire (DCS Number 400-017-452). This case involves the conversion of storage buildings adjacent to a village settlement boundary to three dwellings. Despite being identified as being within open countryside, the site was not isolated, the inspector concluded:

“Paragraph 55 of the Framework says that isolated homes in the countryside should be avoided. Although ‘isolated’ is not defined, it is reasonable to understand that it means isolated spatially from other built development, and this supported by the judgement in Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greyread Limited & Granville Developments Limited [2017] EWHC 2743 (Admin). In the case before me, the site is adjacent to a residential property which is within the settlement. Indeed the retained building on the appeal site runs along the boundary with the dwelling and is seen in the same context. Therefore I consider the site is not isolated, and the development would not conflict with paragraph 55. I accept Braintree District Council in the above case did not have a five years supply of housing, whereas Wychavon District does, but that does not alter the interpretation of paragraph 55.”

There must surely be a good number of rejected proposals on edge-of-village sites which are now worth another look.

National guidance on isolated homes in the countryside is set out in DCP Online section 9.231.

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