Our team recently secured planning permission for the replacement of 2x dwellings in the Aylesbury Vale green belt and the Chilterns AONB. Both designations have a high level of protection which often preclude against development, but through our strategic engagement and an inspiring architectural design from the team at Millar Howard Workshop, we are delighted that planning permission was granted.
Replacement dwellings in the green belt
The site hosted two dwellings and associated hardstanding, and our client wished to upgrade the entire site for a more attractive and functional residential use.
Given the complex designations on site, the first stage of our involvement was to undertake in-depth analysis of the site context and planning history to ascertain if there was a way forward for the redevelopment project and if so, what the best planning strategy would be.
Generally speaking, there is a presumption against new development in the green belt, but there are certain exceptions and two such were relevant to the case here. These related to:
- the replacement of a building in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
- limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land, which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the green belt than the existing development.
Our review of the site context allowed for an informed pre-application meeting which helped establish acceptable development parameters from the Local Planning Authority (LPA).
Importance of spatial and visual aspects of openness in the green belt
In regard to ‘openness’, although the term is not in itself defined within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), it is generally presumed to mean the absence of ‘built’ development.
However, we identified recent planning judgements which called this interpretation into question, suggesting that openness is not only a matter of volumetric calculations but also visual.
This informed our planning strategy and, we, along with local architects Millar Howard Workshop, were mindful to ensure the creation of a holistic development which considered both the quantum and physical effect of the proposed development on the application site.
Securing permission for replacement dwellings in the green belt
The key issues in relation to the proposal were to ensure the new dwellings were not materially larger than the ones they replaced and that they would not have a greater impact on the openness of the green belt, compared to the existing situation.
The proposed design by Millar Howard Workshop offered 2x high-quality dwellings, influenced by the rural context. Drawing key influences from natural materials, it evidenced the ability to boost the biodiversity value of the site. A fabric first and sustainable approach were also pursued to ensure a functional, yet holistic development was achieved. This was all undertaken whilst reducing the volume, floorspace and ridge height of the existing built form.
Working with both the client and the architect, we helped to create a bespoke scheme which met both design aspirations and planning policy requirements resulting in a high-quality, beautiful development which will benefit and add value to the surrounding area and context and crucially, have no negative impact on the openness of the green belt.
How our planning consultants added value to this project
We are delighted with the planning approval which will see 2 sensitively designed dwellings replace existing buildings to the betterment of the surrounding context. Our team added value to this project in several ways, but key was:
- Our in-depth analysis of site context and planning history allowed for an informed pre app which helped establish acceptable parameters from the LPA;
- Our awareness of recent planning judgements which noted the importance of the visual aspects of openness and how volumetric measures are not the only consideration;
- Our teamwork with the client and architect to create a bespoke scheme which met the aspirations to create a functional and high-quality scheme which offered further benefits in terms of landscape and ecological value, paired with sustainable technology.
If you have a rural development scheme which you think may well benefit from professional planning consultancy input then contact Caroline, who will be able to advise how we can best assist and prepare a no obligation tailor-made fee quote for our services to do so.
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IMAGE SOURCE: Millar Howard Workshop (2018)