Time will tell

Given that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is set to be banned from 2030 the prospects for the redevelopment of a site in rural Wiltshire might look better in a few years’ time. This appeal (DCS Number 400-033-194) related to the refusal of planning permission for the redevelopment of equestrian premises with a detached house.

The inspector found that the proposal would have an acceptable effect on the character and appearance of the area. He also found that it would generate a new dwelling which would make a positive contribution to the current undersupply, and would contribute to housing choice and mix locally. He further found that as the proposal would utilise previously developed land it would result in an efficient use of the site.

However, considering the very limited range of services and facilities near the appeal site, and the distance to the nearest village, the inspector found it highly likely that the future occupiers of the proposal would use private vehicles to access these. He noted the societal trends referred to by the appellant, including the rise of electric vehicles (including electric bicycles), greater working-from-home (promoted on the Connecting Wiltshire website and arising via the ongoing coronavirus pandemic), online purchasing, ‘shopping local’, and work and recreational opportunities afforded by fast broadband. He also noted that in line with The Road to Zero [The Road to Zero: Next steps towards cleaner road transport and delivering our Industrial Strategy (Department for Transport, 2018)] and Decarbonising Transport [Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge (Department for Transport, 2020)] documents, and paragraph 112 e) of the Framework, the appellant had suggested a planning condition to require electric charging points on site. Nonetheless, the inspector reasoned that the use of sustainable transport modes, such as ultra-low and zero emission vehicles, cannot be mandated, and that the other factors mentioned would depend very much on personal choices. As such, considering the poor accessibility of the site to services and facilities, he found it necessary to take a precautionary approach, meaning that the significant use of internal combustion engine-based private vehicles by future occupiers must be considered to be a real possibility. 

Accordingly, the inspector found that the proposed development would not provide a suitable location for new residential development, having regard to the accessibility of services and facilities. 

Time will tell if these concerns are still relevant in 2030.

The sustainability considerations relating to rural dwellings are discussed at section 9.2381 of DCP Online.