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Redevelopment of redundant agricultural buildings into 2 new residential dwellings

redevelopment of barns to residential housing in greenbelt

Our constructive pre-application meeting with Basildon Council helped to set the framework for a successful planning strategy, which has resulted in planning permission for 2 new family homes to be developed on a site that, at face value, had limited development potential.

Setting a framework for a positive pre-application meeting

The site consisted of a house, annexe and various outbuildings.  Our client was seeking to demolish the redundant outbuildings and develop two further dwellings on the land.  Our initial feasibility study flagged key considerations including the site’s location within the Metropolitan Green Belt.  Due to the complexities on site, we sought a pre-application meeting with the Council to get a steer on current policy thinking and establish any other further concerns.

We have written about how to get the most out of a pre-app meeting previously.  In this instance, our careful preparation and constructive engagement resulted in effective pre-app discussions.  The subsequent pre-app response provided useful groundwork from which we could prepare a suitable planning strategy to secure planning permission on the site.

Land definitions – agricultural use or previously developed land?

Our first hurdle was defining the actual use of the redundant buildings that our client wished to replace.  New buildings in the green belt are considered inappropriate development and are heavily resisted, there are however some exceptions. Most pertinent to this application was the exception relating to partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land.

However, the pre-app response showed Council records that suggested the buildings were in ‘agricultural use’.  As such, they could not be defined as ‘previously developed land’ and would not meet the necessary exception tests for new development in the green belt.  However, provided it could be demonstrated that the buildings had not been used for agricultural purposes, they might then be classed as previously developed land.

Our client had plenty of evidence to show that the barns had not been in agricultural use for decades.  We reviewed the evidence, assessed its quality and prepared a detailed commentary supported by statutory declarations, for a Certificate of Lawfulness application to justify why the buildings could be classed as previously developed land.  The Certificate of Lawfulness application was successful, and the Council accepted the principle of redevelopment of the site.

Building on previously developed land in the green belt

The positive outcome of the Certificate of Lawfulness set the foundations for a full planning application to demolish and redevelop the two redundant buildings into 2 new residential dwellings, one of which was to be a self-build project.

For this next planning application, a key test was to evidence that the proposed redevelopment in this location would make no greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than that of the existing development.

Our planning consultants prepared a robust application which included a comparison chart between the existing and proposed development.  This provided a visual aid to evidence how the proposed new development would minimise the impact on the openness of the green belt and integrate well within its setting.

We engaged effectively with the case officer on these projects and liaised across the project team to ensure any queries were dealt with and responded to expediently.  We are delighted that both planning applications were approved without delay and that our client can now realise their development ambitions on the site, with a development that will reduce impact on the green belt and enhance its setting through sensitive design.

About us

We are an independent, family-run planning consultancy.  Our focus is always to provide clear, fair and effective planning advice and support.  Our team are very knowledgeable and the success of Plainview Planning to date is testament to the quality planning support our team provide and the positive working relationships we nurture with our clients and other stakeholders.  If you are seeking planning support for a development project, then contact Caroline via enquiries@plainview.co.uk to find out how we can best assist and to receive a no obligation fee quote for our services.

IMAGE SOURCE: Invent Architecture – 2018