Overturning a Planning Officer's recommendation for refusal at Tewkesbury Planning Committee
Wreyland Rural Planning submitted a householder application for an extension to an existing dwelling which sat within both the Greenbelt and AONB. The application was recommended for refusal by the Planning Officer on the basis that the proposal represented 'inappropriate development in the Greenbelt' as it would result in disproportionate extensions to the 'original dwelling' according to TBC's Planning Officer.
Policy precludes inappropriate development in the Green Belt with some exceptions, one of these being proportionate residential extensions, which, as a rule of thumb should not generally be greater in size than 40% - 50% of the 'original dwelling.'
The original dwelling is considered under policy to be the dwelling as it was on 1st July 1949.
Despite a dwelling having been on this particular site for 400 years, the Planning Officer considered the original dwelling here to date from 1965 - the year the LPA's records on the property began. The Planning Officer considered the proposed extension to be 129% greater than the dwelling at that time and therefore 'inappropriate.'
Research undertaken by Wreyland Rural Planning revealed evidence from 1947 which showed a much larger dwelling at the relevant date, upon which the proposed extension represented an increase of just 17.5% - far smaller than that considered by the Planning Officer and well within the parameters of what is considered 'proportionate' under policy
Reporting the findings to the Planning Committee, we are pleased to say that Councillors took a pragmatic view of the evidence before them, and found overwhelmingly in our favour.
Another successful day here at the coalface of rural planning and another happy client...
NFU Mutual reports 'surge in farm diversification...'
A recent survey undertaken by NFU Mutual and published in Farmers Weekly reported a surge in the proportion of farmers making an income from a diversified business. (https://www.fwi.co.uk/business/diversification/survey-shows-surge-in-farm-diversification).
37% of farm businesses reported diversified interests - up from 31% last year. In 2018, this figure was 28%.
Income from non-farming enterprises as a percentage of total business turnover also increased to 16%.
The most popular types of diversified enterprise were reported as; Renewable energy, residential letting, holiday accommodation, equestrian, farm shops and caravan / camping sites.
In England alone, 43% of farms have diversified interests...
Drivers behind this change are reported to be changes to BPS, the risk of cheaper food imports, the Covid pandemic and the resulting demand for 'staycations.' Brexit was not mentioned... Jokes - of course it was, and it will be reported as the driver for everything forever more...
What is interesting about this is that the planning system was not mentioned... Back in the mid 2000's planning was regularly identified as a principal barrier to rural diversification. Since then the system has eased considerably...
As well as being a crack Planning Consultant I can also help with insomnia. If you're reading this late at night because you can't sleep - I can help. Seek out the National Planning Policy Framework... Turn to page 23 and there ye shall behold Paragraph 83 'Supporting a prosperous rural economy.' Here, the Government directs Local Planning Authorities to enable:
a) The sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business in rural areas, both through conversion of existing buildings and well-designed new buildings:
b) the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses.
c) sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside;
This policy is a material consideration. It has set the Government's direction of travel in favour of rural economic development and offers farmers and other rural business and landowners a solid base from which to really push their Local Authorities armed with a robust application which has the weight of Government policy behind it.
Whether the easing of planning policy in terms of rural development was a driver behind the growth in diversified farm incomes is an interesting question. What is certain is that the relatively benign planning landscape will have significantly helped drive the increase and continues to offer myriad opportunities for development. The current policy climate is an opportunity to be taken advantage of.
Sweating Farm Assets...
Class R of the GPDO 2015 - The change of use of agricultural buildings to flexible commercial purposes (which includes shops, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes, business, storage or distribution, even hotels).
This month on a farm in Gloucestershire we changed the use of the ground floor of a traditional farm building to accommodate a furniture restorer who had expressed an interest in using the floorspace.
At less than 150m2 of floorspace we simply provide a pretty plan to the LPA, and demonstrate how the proposal concords with the terms of the Permitted Development. No need for floorplans or elevations, topo's, structural surveys, flood risk, or even a tussle with the Local Authority.
This is a really simple avenue from which to make use of under-utilised assets on the farm without onerous investment. The corner of an existing under-utilised building can provide additional income and provide a little bolstering against the scourge of volatility.
A satisfied customer? We should have them stuffed!
Planning success was achieved this week in conjunction with Morris Architectural Design for a property in Torbay, Devon.
The application involved a semi-detached dwelling, the owner of which sought three objectives: To replace an attached single-storey garage with a two-storey extension to increase internal living accommodation, to detach the existing garage from the neighbouring property to create an entirely detached dwelling, and to append a balcony to the rear of the property to allow the applicant to make the most of their sea view.
Working with Nathaniel Morris, we were able to counter the Local Authority's reservations - which were many, as well as vocal opposition raised by the neighbours.
Crucial to the success of the application was clear demonstration that the application was policy concordant, would not be overbearing to neighbouring properties, would not be of detriment to the wider locale in terms of overlooking or overshadowing and was appropriate to the character of the area. Further concerns were raised in terms of parking provision.
These objections required additional plans from Nathaniel over that normally required for an application and which demonstrated no detriment to the neighbour, a comprehensive assessment and interpretation of local policy to show that the Local Authority were wrong in many areas of their opposition, and the provision of Planning Appeal evidence to further bolster our arguments with relevant evidence.
We are very pleased that the applicant has achieved their goal, affording them a detached property with a significant increase in floorspace, and sea-views of the English Riviera (complete with Sydney Opera House, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and its herds of Wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains...).
Another permission in the bag today with permission under Delegated powers for the provision of annexe accommodation on a farm in the Cotswolds.
A multi-generational solution was required to allow father and son to generate a living from the same holding, while allowing them each a bit of privacy.
A number of opportunities can be available in these circumstances. Where livestock numbers can demonstrate an essential need, an application for an ag-tied dwelling can be made, however this can take some doing where a farmhouse exists already. Other opportunities are also sometimes available, and can include the conversion of an existing rural building on the farm, maybe even under Class Q.
Sometimes though, the simplest solutions are the best. Here local policy provided for annexe accommodation to the main farmhouse which met the applicant's requirements. A quick, clean and efficient application was made with a decision being received ten weeks later.
A pleasing result was obtained this week for a client within the Green Belt...
Our client, an established Bee Keeper, maintains 40 hives across the region, and manages circa 40,000,000 bees. This is approximately 2% of the UK's two-billion bees. (By comparison a farmer managing 2% of the UK's sheep flock would represent 700,000 ewes). Therefore, this client is a major contributor to supporting bee numbers in the UK.
Our client required a larger building from which to grow the business further, and to replace an existing agricultural building which has begun to show its age.
Planning was achieved within 9 weeks - not bad given recent circumstances.
Not just rural planning!
Wreyland Rural Planning achieved permission today for a two-storey side and rear extension to a semi-detached property in central Gloucester.
During our initial research it was found that very few recent applications had been made for similar developments within the area... Notwithstanding this an application was made supported by a really strong set of plans together with a robust planning statement which emphasised an absence of any detriment to neighbouring amenity.
The application was permitted within nine weeks of submission under delegated powers with no further discussion required with the Planning Officer.
Thanks again to the finest draughtsman this side of Pugin, Mr Charles Board of Journeyman Draughting.
A strong and pleasing result.
A new set of buildings for an old farm business...
More success on the farm this week and again within the Cotswold AONB - this time near Winchcombe.
A range of dilapidated farm buildings required complete replacement. Plans were submitted for the storage of preserved fodder, farm machinery, as well as a spanking new workshop.
Prior Approval was sought using the farm's Permitted Development Rights and this morning we were notified that the Local Authority (Tewkesbury) were happy for the applicants to proceed without the need for a full application.
Decent, well designed and located buildings that are suitable to their intended uses are so important for a farm business. Older, traditional farm buildings may look nice, but their range of uses to modern farming is limited - happily it is fairly east to work up robust arguments to put them to more profitable use. What we call 'modern' farm buildings though can cover any building built almost since 1947. Working from a building of over 50 years old which may never have been intended to last that long can be of significant detriment to the efficiency of a farm enterprise, the well being of the people working in it and to husbandry in general, so we're very pleased that Tewkesbury Borough Council considered this application pragmatically, particularly given its location.
Thanks also to Charles Board of Journeyman Draughting for a cracking set of plans, and to Anton Kattan of Pure Ecology for a comprehensive Preliminary Ecological Assessment
In which we set about troubling the scorers...
Leather connects with willow in perfect harmony, and another application is sent arcing into the big blue, whistling across the boundary to meet with polite applause.
This week, a rather smashing little agricultural building granted in the Cotswold AONB. A tricky affair with the added constraints of a public footpath and an attractive Oak tree in close proximity that was subject to a TPO.
Thankfully our friends at Stroud District Council saw the merits of our argument and raised both hands above their head indicating that we'd just scored a six... (or that they were surrendering...)
Either way, it's job done and time for tea... (Or to discuss terms...)
This application marks our first success since Wreyland Rural Planning became operational, and though it may be small scale, to us it represents the next phase of development for a fledgling farm enterprise with some big ideas. We wish them well, and look forward to following their progress...
100 days of Wreyland Rural Planning!
Matt Hancock delivered a rousing speech yesterday on the first 100 days of the UK’s Coronavirus Vaccination Programme.
What he failed to mention, and which I personally believe is more important to the national interest, is that this week also marks the first 100 days since the launch of Wreyland Rural Planning.
We currently have going through the planning system…
An extension to a curtilage listed domestic outbuilding to provide for greater storage space and a permanent home office.
The discharge and variation of conditions concerning a new dwelling within the Dartmoor National Park
An application for two new dwellings near Gloucester
A new farm building situated within the Cotswold AONB for the storage of machinery and preserved fodder
A residential annexe for an existing farmhouse in the Cotswold AONB
The removal of an Agricultural Occupancy Condition in Gloucestershire
A new farm building within the Green Belt
A residential extension within the Green Belt
The change of use an existing outbuilding to a new residential dwelling within the Forest of Dean
Side and rear extensions to a semi-detached property in Gloucester
Extensions to a detached residence located in both the AONB and the Green Belt
The change of use of agricultural land to residential use within the Cotswold AONB
A new agricultural building within the AONB near Stroud
We have also provided consultation services to parties looking to acquire infill development within a Cotswold village, the wholesale movement of a company’s premises to an out of town location, the remediation of a property with outbuildings which were built without planning permission, the installation of an air source heat pump, the change of use a residential annexe in the north Cotswolds to commercial use, together with a multitude of additional enquiries which will soon begin to work their way through the system.
100 days ago I would never have anticipated the level of work that has come in, most of which has arrived with me through personal recommendations for which I am very grateful.
Here’s to the next 100 days!