My parents would like to retire and would therefore like to sell half their farm to myself and my husband. They live in a converted barn and the half they would like to sell contains an annexe (an already converted former cowshed situated approx. 50 yds from the main house). For us to buy this the local planners need to grant permission for the annexe to be recognised as a separate dwelling.
Because this was a slightly complex request and we wanted it to be recognised that this was an attempt at multi-generational living and not a chance to cover the rest of the farm in houses, we asked to discuss this with the planners initially. Our request was refused.
The deadline for decision came and went and the planners requested a 2 week extension for a Highways inspection. This was granted and we again asked if we could meet to talk over any other issues. Highways had no problems, Parish had no issues and the planner who finally visited said he would get back if there was anything to discuss.
At this point we pointed out to the planner that we would be installing solar panels and generally making the annexe ‘greener’ but would be doing no other work or indeed anything that required pp and also explained about the family continuing to live on the farm.
Exactly 2 weeks later the visiting planner phoned to say the permission was refused because there were unsustainability issues, it was isolated, we were contributing nothing to the local economy and it was outside the building line.
This, despite the fact we can move into the annexe at any time, with an excellent rural bus service (including a school bus for our children) just 5 mins walk away.
Obviously we are taking this to appeal, but are struggling to understand why there are problems with a mere separation of property when there are housing developments of 2000 plus springing up within a 5 mile radius on green fields.
It seems to us the planners have lost control of the bigger projects and are just refusing all the smaller ones on principle. None of the points they have refused our permission on remotely stand up and we feel if we had been allowed to talk this over at the beginning much stress and money could have been saved.

  • Alasdair Macmillan

    It’s never nice to have planning permission refused. Did you use the services of a Planning Consultant? Separation of a house and annexe can be tricky – are there issues of privacy, amenity, access, services? Would permitting a separate house set an unwelcome precedent? I would engage the services of an RTPI consultant for any appeal if you haven’t already.

    Your local authority will have an official complaints procedure, though I would think carefully first – was it poor service? Thanks to government cutbacks Planning Departments are generally short-staffed, and while they are all professionals and bound by the RTPI Code of Conduct, planning officers are rarely able to spend as much time as they might like with applicants. A letter suggesting your local authority employ additional staff might be a good idea, but complaining about service just because your application was refused is unlikely to achieve your desired outcome, and will only add to workloads.

    Engage a professional and try to work with, rather than against, the planning department – and good luck!

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