Getting Planning Permission in Green Belt and the Countryside
“I want to make an offer on someone’s garden with a view to building on it. Thing is, they’re outside the village development boundary. Will I get planning permission?”
Generally, no chance. The construction of a new building outside a settlement boundary is usually not permitted. However, as an exception, there are some opportunities to develop outside the boundary if it involves the replacement of an existing dwelling, a barn conversion or is for affordable housing.
“I want to become a farmer and build a farmhouse in the countryside”
Yes, you’ve got a chance. Under the Paragraph 55 of the NPPF the development of a new dwelling in the countryside will be permitted under special circumstances where an agricultural worker needs to live on the site of their enterprise. You would, however, need to demonstrate an essential need based on a proven agricultural business use — for example, a need to live on site to tend to livestock around the clock. The wording of the Paragraph is vague however. There’s some good insight on the issue here.
“I want to buy a house in the countryside and replace it with something much bigger”
Yes and no. Permission to rebuild an existing house is usually acceptable; however, the size allowed depends on numerous factors such as the local policies in the area, the size of the site and the impact on the surrounding area. Generally an increase in size by 30% is considered reasonable, but check with the local planning authority first. One key thing to remember is that Permitted Development (PD) rights have now changed so large extensions in the majority of cases are now possible without planning permission (see below).
“I want to build a house on a virgin site in the middle of open countryside”
Very little chance. A very few number have been granted permission, but these have been for unique homes in respect of design, scale and architecture. Even so, not every bespoke design or concept is suitable. The process is vastly complex, costly, with no guarantee of success. This would require the assistance of a specialist planning consultant with knowledge of this type of project and, therefore, would be able to provide a robust case.
Building a Sustainable Home
“I want to generate all my own electricity from on-site renewables”
Yes, you have a good chance. There is scope to generate your own electricity within the curtilage of your property under the recent amendment to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) (England only) on the installation of domestic microgeneration equipment. This allows you to put up certain electricity generating equipment such as solar panels and heat power systems; however, they would be restricted by criteria such as size, height, distance from the boundary of the property and conservation status.
So, whilst there is potential to generate your electricity needs through sustainable methods, this will depend on the size of your house and plot, and therefore the size and type of equipment used. Wind turbines are not currently included within the recent GDPO amendements and require an application.
Changes to Existing Buildings and Homes
“I own an ordinary terraced home but want to build a modern glass extension”
Yes, you probably can. Following the recent changes to Permitted Development (PD) rights, there is now greater scope to do a lot more in terms of extensions. The parameters set down (BELOW) generally focus on the size and location of an extension; however, materials must be in keeping with those used on the existing property. Subject to a planning application, a glass extension may be considered acceptable.
“I want to knock down my semi-detached home for access to the garden, and build a detached home on the land”
Yes, you can. Demolition of a dwelling does not generally require planning permission unless it is within a protected area such as a Conservation Area or if the building is listed. Whilst the demolition of half of a semi-detached dwelling is not unheard of, various rules in respect of Building Regulations and the Party Wall Act 1996 will need to be adhered to.
In terms of the creation of a new detached dwelling and access, this is again possible subject to certain criteria. These will include site-specific considerations such as the impact on the built form of the area, the street scene, noise and neighbouring properties.
“I have an old barn on my land. I want to convert it into a dwelling”
Yes, you’ve got a good chance. At present, most local authorities will permit a barn conversion so long as it is in accordance with specific criteria (BELOW). The criteria will relate to issues such as the stability and soundness of the existing structure, impact on the highway, the character of the surroundings and the sustainability of the location. Many authorities seek to promote business/commercial uses before residential uses, so you need to prove that the site is unviable for such a use.
General criteria for the reuse and adaptation of rural buildings (barn conversions) for residential purposes include the following:
“I want to build a house different to that which has been approved”
Yes, there’s a good chance. As there is already planning permission for the site, this provides a precedent for the development of a dwelling. It is possible to reapply to amend the scheme with another application to allow your design ideas to be incorporated. This would be subject to the nature of the site, the area and local planning policies.
“My home’s listed, but I want to add a modern extension”
You do have a chance. Precedence and guidance indicates that the creation of an extension that shows significant imagination and would not deter from the ‘special’ nature of the listed building may be successful in gaining listed building consent and planning permission. The use of a contemporary design would be applicable to show the transition between the historic and modern elements. This is to ensure that any addition would not compete with the original structure. In this case, design, massing and the use of materials is key.
* Article updated July 2016