Mind the gap

A useful ruling on the meaning of ‘limited infilling’ can be found in the decision relating to an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a single dwelling in the Greater Manchester green belt (DCS Number 400-019-367).

The inspector recorded that there was no evidence before him of a definition of ‘limited infilling’ or ‘villages’ contained within the Development Plan or the Framework, or indeed its glossary. He considered that “infilling” implies the development of a site that is between existing buildings. In respect of the plot itself, he observed that it sat between two residential properties on similar sized plots, which formed part of a wider established built form. He therefore considered that the proposal did constitute infilling in a village. In reaching this conclusion, he had regard to Julian Wood v SSCLG, Gravesham Borough Council [2015].

The inspector reasoned that the crux of the matter was whether the proposal was limited infilling in a village. He noted the appellant’s argument that the reference to limited was only concerned with the size of the plot, and he agreed that in his experience, infill proposals are typically only concerned with the size of the plot, not the size of the dwelling. However, he considered that the reference to ‘limited’ in the fifth bullet of paragraph 89* of the Framework requires a consideration of both the scale and form of the development and has to be interpreted in the context of the overall aim of green belt policy, which is to preserve the openness of the green belt. This implies minimising the loss of significant open gaps between buildings, he determined.

The proposed dwelling, however, would extend almost the full width of the plot. Due to its significant width, the inspector held that the dwelling would fail to reflect the generous spacing of the neighbouring properties. Therefore, he found that the dwelling would be in excess of what would be a reasonable definition of limited infilling.  

*In the new NPPF this is Para 145 e).

Section 4.2511 of DCP Online concerns current and emerging green belt policy and guidance.