Paragraph 55 of the NPPF states that “Local planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances such as:” …. (bullet point four)….”the exceptional quality or innovative nature of the design of the dwelling.” A recent appeal case concerning the retention of a beech wood hut at a house in Buckinghamshire (DCS Number 400-019-142) indicates that an exception to green belt policy on curtilage buildings might also be made for exceptional design.
The inspector observed that the outbuilding was located a considerable distance from the dwelling. On this basis, he ruled, it could not be considered as an extension in the way that a detached garage adjacent to a dwelling might be, and it was therefore inappropriate development under the NPPF. However, he found that the visual perception of the loss of openness was limited by the hut’s woodland setting whilst the spatial loss of openness was limited by reason of its small size.
The hut had been designed to resemble a brown beech nut in a natural eco build and had been made from UK sourced wood by hand, the inspector observed. It had overlapping curved timber shingle tiles sculpted around a roughly semi-spherical shaped structure. Internally, the space was roughly oval with windows to look at nature and create a space to write. He considered that it had a fairly unique and quirky appearance and character that blended in with its surroundings. He found that, locally, its whimsical natural charm added considerably to the character and appearance of the area. This was appreciated in filtered views by users of a public footpath and from neighbouring properties. Consequently, he considered that the hut was of considerable visual interest.
The inspector concluded overall that although the hut was inappropriate development there were very special circumstances to permit it.
Discussion of the nature of “very special circumstances” can be found at section 4.2514 of DCP Online.