Plainview Planning recently obtained planning approval for the conversion of several agricultural buildings into three, two bed, live/work units in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
An innovative scheme on a challenging site
The proposed scheme aimed to utilise the existing redundant and dilapidated agricultural and commercial buildings, along with the associated land, to provide highly energy efficient, low impact live/work units for use by 3 local enterprises who form part of a rural creative collective.
The site is located outside any defined settlement boundary, is isolated and is within the Cotswolds AONB. Pre-Application advice was sought from Stroud District Council (SDC) with a relatively challenging response.
Making the case for sustainable development
Our project team worked to present a robust planning submission which would overcome pre-app concerns and identify that even in light of its isolated location, the development was inherently sustainable.
Whilst the adopted Local Plan from 2005 made no mention of live/work, analysis of the emerging Local Plan identified constrained employment land and clear support for creative rural enterprises and mixed use developments on redundant sites.
Our planning consultants identified a policy ‘black hole’ surrounding the “sui generis” use class for live/work units, which was of relevance to this case and therefore material considerations were of particular importance.
We successfully evidenced how the proposed development represented sustainable development for a clear number of reasons across social, economic and environmental gains. In so doing, our arguments identified how the proposal aligned with the aims of the NPPF and that the Council therefore had a duty to support sustainable economic growth in rural areas by taking a positive approach to new development.
We further justified the viability of the scheme with the collation and presentation of relevant appeal precedents which supported the view that live/work type operations create sustainable environments. We also flagged, as held at the High Court, that applicants for planning permission should expect consistency in decision making.
Sensible application of policy
Through negotiation, active engagement and robust project management, the application was permitted and planning consent granted. Even in light of the isolated location of the site, this case was a clear example that planning policy is not statute. In this example it was important to have regard to the rationale and objectives underlying the policy, and to apply it in a way that sensibly delivered policy intentions. As a result it did not hinder approval of an otherwise entirely sustainable development in light of all the material considerations.
Plainview Planning is a Town and County Planning Consultancy with offices based in Gloucestershire, London, Sussex and Essex. Our dynamic, knowledgeable and innovative team provide expert planning support across the developer, householder and commercial sectors. If your planning scheme requires professional planning consultant input, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.