Planning permissions secured for the expansion of a boutique B&B in the AONB

Our strategic planning approach was key to obtaining a recent planning approval, which secured the use of, and an extension to, a popular boutique bed and breakfast in Etchingham.

The scheme:

Located within the AONB and falling just outside the defined settlement boundary, the proposed scheme sought:

  • retrospective planning permission for use of the dwellinghouse (Class C3) to a B&B / Guesthouse (Class C1)  as a bed and breakfast; and
  • the replacement of an existing outbuilding to provide extra guest rooms and an extension to the main house in the form of an orangery, to increase communal space.

The site and the proposed scheme presented a number of complex planning considerations and we prepared an effective planning strategy to negotiate any potential pitfalls.

The strategy:

We engaged in pre-application discussions with Rother District Council to establish acceptance of the principle of both use of the house as a B&B and the extension and increase in room numbers.

We then prepared and submitted an application to regularise the current use of the dwellinghouse as bed and breakfast accommodation.

Our success in regularising the use provided us with a solid foundation for moving forward, before making the application for expansion.

Retrospective planning permission for a use:

Ascertaining whether you need to apply for planning permission for the use of your home as holiday accommodation is very much a matter of fact and degree. In this case, an application was required and our approach to obtain a positive result included:

  • extensive engagement with Rother District Council;
  • policy research which justified that the use met an identified need for boutique B&Bs within the district and how the proposals responded to planning requirements for rural communities at both a national and local level;
  • collation and presentation of evidence which showed that the business offered a very high standard of accommodation and demand for this particular B&B was increasing;
  • we proposed a flexible permission to allow the use to revert back to a dwellinghouse without the need for further permissions in the future.

Planning approval for an extension in the AONB:

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has a statutory national landscape designation, the purpose of which is to conserve and enhance natural beauty.

Due to the sensitive nature of the AONB designation on site, we sought feedback from nearby residents and worked with the architect and case officer, reviewing the designs extensively to ensure that:

  • the proposed extensions respected their setting;
  • had limited or no impact on local character and amenities;
  • and were of a scale and in a location which was in keeping with the rural character of the countryside.


We were successful in achieving planning permission to regularise the use of an existing and high quality B&B and to secure the expansion of the business to accommodate increased demand. Despite the complexities on site, we are delighted that through a strategic approach and positive engagement with the council, planning permission was granted without delay not once, but twice!

About Us:

We are a team of interested and knowledgeable planners who take pride in positive developments in the right location. We work both in urban centres and in rural locations and understand the challenges and benefits for both environments.  You can see some examples of our experience in changes of use, the retail and leisure sector and rural developments by following the links below:

Retail and leisure projects

Change of use planning projects

Rural development projects

IMAGE SOURCE: Shoyswell Cottage 2016 – Shoyswell Cottage is a boutique B&B situated in a beautiful and idyllic rural setting: