Not going to happen

A replacement dwelling in the green belt in Hertfordshire has been rejected at appeal, an inspector declining to take unexpended permitted development rights into account to justify a larger dwelling (DCS Number 400-018-395).

The existing dwelling was a modest single storey bungalow. The inspector found that the end result would be a building that was materially larger in volume, bulk and mass than that which presently existed on the site. The development would therefore be inappropriate development in the Green Belt as it was not within one of the exceptions in the closed list in paragraph 89 or 90 of the Framework, he determined.  

The appellant, however, claimed that the unexpended permitted development rights afforded to the existing dwelling were a legitimate fallback position and should be taken into account when assessing whether the proposal was materially larger than the building it sought to replace.

In turn, the inspector cited the words of the judge in Athlone House Ltd v SSCLG [2015] when considering paragraph 89 of the Framework “… it would not affect the baseline which was the basis of comparison set out in paragraph 89 [of the Framework]. Paragraph 89, as I have already observed, is clear; an unbuilt permitted development which a developer may be keen to implement could not, on the basis of the interpretation of the plain words of the policy, be included in such an assessment. That is not to say that such a material fallback would be irrelevant. It would probably be relevant at the stage of considering the question of very special circumstances, taking account of the weight to be attached to it bearing in mind the likelihood of its implementation and the extent of its impact on openness if it were developed”.

Accordingly, the inspector acknowledged that the unexpended permitted development rights were not irrelevant to the appeal before him. He noted, however, that the appellant had stated that the “condition of the property was poor and substantial investment would be required to not only secure structural integrity for future-proofing but to ensure that there was adequate thermal efficiency for sustainable modern-day living” and that the “long-term value of the property and its fit-for-purpose status is questionable”. On that basis the inspector found it highly unlikely that the appellant would go to the expense of carrying out extensions and alterations under permitted development rights to then demolish the building and erect the replacement sought. As such, he gave the unexpended permitted development rights limited weight.

There is comprehensive coverage of green belt policy at section 4.251 of DCP Online and rural reconstruction and replacement is discussed at section 9.63.