Excepting the exceptional

Despite being larger in scale than the existing dwelling a replacement dwelling has been allowed in rural north Wales, an inspector finding it to be of exceptional design (DCS Number 400-027-021).

Development plan policy, the inspector recorded, included the following:

“Outside development boundaries, the siting and design of the total new development should be of a similar scale and size and should not create a visual impact significantly greater than the existing dwelling in order that it can be satisfactorily absorbed or integrated into the landscape. In exceptional circumstances a larger well designed dwelling that does not lead to a significant greater visual impact could be supported”.

The inspector noted that although the replacement dwelling would be broadly on the same footprint as that existing, it would be of a larger scale and a different design. He found, however, that despite being larger the proposal was a high quality design that due to its exceptional form, appearance and use of materials, and its location relative to other development and local topography, would not lead to a significantly greater visual impact and would be satisfactorily absorbed into the locality. Its scale and size would therefore be appropriate for the area. On this basis he found that the proposal satisfied the overall policy requirements.

There already exists the scope, of course, where development plan policy demands that a replacement dwelling should be much the same size as that to be replaced, to decide that exceptional design quality constitutes a material consideration sufficient to determine the application or appeal other than in accordance with the development plan. Nevertheless, it would be good to see policy of this type, which encourages exceptional design, more widely adopted.

Section 9.631 of DCP Online concerns replacement dwellings in the rural area.