Spaced out

Further confirmation that ‘isolated’ in Paragraph 55 of the NPPF means physically isolated comes in the shape of a recent appeal relating to the refusal of outline permission for redevelopment of commercial buildings and a bungalow in the Worcestershire countryside with five dwellings (DCS Number 400-017-468). In this case the inspector usefully quotes the words of the judge in Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greyread Limited & Granville Developments Limited [2017]:

The judge in the recent judgement has stated that paragraph 55 of the Framework ‘cannot be read as a policy against development in settlements without facilities and services since it expressly recognises that development in a small village may enhance and maintain services in a neighbouring village, as people travel to use them’. She also states that the immediate context is the distinction in paragraph 55 ‘between “rural communities”, “settlements” and “villages” on the one hand, and “the countryside” on the other. This suggests that “isolated homes in the countryside” are not in communities and settlements and so the distinction between the two is primarily spatial/physical’.

In this light the inspector reasoned that as the appeal site was adjacent to existing dwellings and a large employment site it was not in an isolated location. The inspector also reasoned that future occupiers of the dwellings would utilise and help to maintain the vitality of the services in the adjacent villages. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.

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

One Response to “Spaced out”

  1. KSRai

    My local council’s pre-NPPF local plan has, for more than a decade (incorrectly) refused to acknowledge that smaller hamlets and ends constitute legitimate residential settlements insofar as the NPPF is concerned. They have been regarded as lying in ‘open countryside’ in policy terms, where development is effectively forbidden, a position that many (though not all) Inspectors have also erroneously supported.

    Where new occupants of dwellings in such hamlets and Ends can support services in adjacent villages (all the better if they are connected by bus services) it is common sense that such dwellings would not a) be isolated and b) would help maintain rural vitality. As alluded to by the judge in the Braintree case, the proposed scale of development is also an important factor to consider because, as the NPPF core principle states the imperative is to ‘focus SIGNIFICANT development in locations which are or can be made sustainable’.

    Organic, small scale development in rural areas isn’t an evil, it’s what has always happened and is exactly what the NPPF always envisaged would continue to happen… how do LPAs think hamlets and Ends were formed in the first place? One can’t wind back the clock but LPAs like mine, now composing their first post-NPPF plans, should do the right thing and not attempt to perpetuate such gross errors of understanding going forward, by writing new, equally repressive policies into their forthcoming new development plans. Two wrongs don’t make a right…


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