A fine line

An inspector determining an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a new house on a paddock in Buckinghamshire (DCS Number 400-018-714) was faced with the not-unusual task of interpreting the meaning of a thick black line on the development plan proposals map. Here is how this inspector dealt with the problem:

“The appellant states that the ‘built-up area within the Green Belt’ designation (the ‘built-up area designation’) should be taken to include all land within the outside of the black boundary line shown on the Proposals Map and has supplied an enlarged plan to demonstrate the extent of this. However, whilst I recognise that the thickness of this line makes it difficult to be precise as to where the built-up area starts and finishes on the Proposals Map, it is my view that the intent of the draftsman and policy-makers concerned would have been to provide a recognisable and logical boundary that follows a combination of existing features on the plan and physical features on the ground. Furthermore, I am also of the view that the exact position of a boundary line in circumstances such as this is a question of planning judgement for the decision-maker, having regard to the submitted evidence and their own on-the-ground assessment.”

This seems like a sensible approach to us, and in this case the inspector decided that the boundary line for the built-up area accorded with a post and rail fence that divided the appeal site from the neighbouring dwelling. Wouldn’t it be a good idea, though, to delineate built-up area boundaries with a fine line in the first place?

Further appeal cases concerning disputed land use boundaries can be found in section 4.2 of DCP Online.