Planning secured for 2x self-build dwellings outside development boundary, Essex

site plan for self build houses outside settlement boundary

A strategic planning approach, detailed context analysis and a thorough review of the local housing land supply delivery were key to us securing planning permission for 2x self-build houses for our client, on a site that was located outside the development boundary and in a rural countryside setting.

The increasing popularity of family estates

Given the current housing crisis, the cost of selling and buying property and longer life-expectancy, we have noticed an increase in the number of enquiries from families wanting planning for annexes or new homes to enable generations of the same family to live close together and support each other.

Our recent planning approval is one such example – with a family seeking to create 2x self-build dwellings on their land to enable a multi-generational family estate.  The proposals had a further function, to enable two of the occupants to live and work at the site whilst allowing for the ongoing care of their relatives.

The importance of site and context analysis

The first stage to any project for our planning consultants is site analysis.  This enables us to review the planning history on site, local and national policies and weigh these up against your development aspirations. This helps to flag early on the positives and pitfalls of the site and set the planning strategy for the project.

In this case our research identified that the site was classed as a rural settlement in the emerging local plan. As part of our planning submission we therefore re-established the definition of ‘isolated’ in planning terms, using relevant case law to justify how housing provision in rural areas is not solely limited to economic benefits but can also include social sustainability.  Through our application of case law and detailed context analysis we successfully evidenced why the site could not be defined as isolated, how it met the sustainability objectives and core principles of the NPPF and, evidenced why it would not cause any material harm to the countryside.

Self-build – responding to local need

Having established the sustainable credentials of the scheme, we reviewed the 5-year housing land supply position and identified a pressing need, not only for housing in general but particularly for self-build provision.  With Government support for self-build and no planned provision across the District, we made a strong case for how these proposed dwellings would go some way to start meeting the demand for this type of development locally.

Unilateral undertakings and planning

To further cement the self-build credentials of the scheme, we proposed a Unilateral Undertaking (UU) to future-proof the scheme and ensure the plot would only be constructed as Custom/Self-Build housing.  A UU is essentially a legal document that Planning Authorities can request in order to secure planning obligations, these can be financial obligations or specific instructions about the particular scheme.  We worked with the client’s solicitor and Case Officer to ensure a suitable UU that was agreeable to all.

Engaging proactively with the Case Officer at Uttlesford District Council, we sought to resolve queries and provide solutions, and were very pleased when this scheme was granted outline permission. This planning approval will enable a family group to live nearby and support each other, in accommodation that suits their needs.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Plainview Planning (2018)