“Of all locations in England and Wales, National Parks have the highest level of protection against new development. In the case of new dwellings, that is reflected in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and in Local Plan (LP) policies which, typically, only allow the creation of new housing in exceptional circumstances, for example, to provide local needs affordable housing or for agricultural workers”, says Mark Sanders of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.
A recent appeal case in the New Forest National Park has explored the interrelationship between the relevant NPPF and LP policies in the context of an existing complex of buildings and infrastructure known as the New Forest Activity Centre.
The applicants had applied for permission to demolish the existing buildings and construct a new dwelling, which they argued was of exceptional quality so that it complied with the policy in the NPPF that allows the creation of isolated dwellings in the countryside. Their plans also involved the removal of yards and equestrian areas and their replacement with a new wildflower meadow and pond, which they argued would provide significant betterment both in terms of a more appropriate use of the land and in terms of its visual appearance within the National Park.
The National Park Authority (NPA) referred to the restrictive policies in the NPPF and to the LP housing policies which provide for the delivery of smaller local affordable needs housing to ensure that the local housing stock meets local demand and is balanced. It also said that the design of the proposed new dwelling was not ‘exceptional’ and did not fall within the relevant policy in the NPPF.
The planning inspector agreed with the NPA that the new dwelling was not ‘exceptional’ but accepted the applicants’ arguments that considerable weight should be attached to the betterment that would arise from the development. In granting permission, the inspector said that the fact that the proposed development conflicted with the LP policies did not mean that the evident demand for larger dwellings should never be accommodated or that there could be no material considerations that mean a departure from the LP may be justified.
“Although all planning decisions turn on their own merits, we have clients within National Parks who wish to find other uses for existing buildings and where the approach taken in this case by the planning inspector may be useful”, concludes Sanders.
For further information please contact Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 212380