Land outside of the settlement boundary – Is there any development potential?

For a more recent review on cases outside of settlement boundaries see here: LINK

Historically, local planning authorities have resisted development outside of defined settlement boundaries. Exceptions to this included: dwellings for agricultural workers; affordable housing; the reuse of farm buildings.

However, these restrictions do not necessarily continue to apply and in some cases, the weight given to settlement boundaries has been reduced or even removed altogether.  This change has largely been noted following the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which only restricts new isolated homes in the countryside (unless there are exceptional circumstances).

Local planning policies that predate the NPPF and are not compliant with its policy content, are deemed to be out of date and no longer carry much weight in the decision making process.  As such there is currently greater scope for development outside of the settlement boundary limits.  Each case will need to be considered on its merits as there are a number of factors that need to be assessed before working out whether there is any development potential.  Such factors could include:

  • Whether the Council’s adopted planning policies are up to date and in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework;
  • Whether the Council can demonstrate that it has an up to date, five year land supply;
  • The level of local housing need;
  • Whether the site is physically isolated or not;
  • The quality and innovative nature of the proposed scheme.

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