Housing development allowed outside the settlement boundary in Essex

Plainview Planning has recently won an appeal for two dwellings at Little Totham, Essex. This appeal represents an important case in understanding the application of the NPPF in the rural area.


The appeal site was located outside the defined settlement boundary, where the Council tried to resist development.


Plainview Planning successfully argued that Maldon District Council could not identify a 5-year housing land supply and as such its adopted local plan policies relating to land supply, and specifically in this case, defined settlement boundaries, were considered out of date and not in accordance with the NPPF.

We also successfully argued that Little Totham is a sustainable village and it was appropriate to increase the supply of housing at this location. Through in-depth analysis, we highlighted that whilst Little Totham has limited services, it is well connected and has a functional relationship with a number of high order settlements. It is this relationship that makes it a sustainable village.

Following the arguments that we put forward, the Planning Inspector accepted that despite the appeal site being located outside a defined settlement boundary, its close proximity to the village meant that it was not in an isolated location.

From our experience, it would appear that it is not just Maldon District Council, but many local authorities, that have wrongly applied restrictions to land outside defined settlement boundaries and have misunderstood the reference to ‘isolated’ houses in the NPPF. This has resulted in many unnecessary planning appeals.

If you have a site that is located outside of a defined settlement boundary that may have scope for development, please email your details to us at or if you have a specific planning problem in the Essex area please contact us at Alternatively please call 01245 201226 to speak to one of our planning consultants.