Regenerating a failing café into a residential dwelling – appeal success in a remote location in South Cambs

Ariel view rural housing

Our recent appeal win for a change of use from a café to family home, highlights the importance of a holistic planning approach when seeking residential development in rural locations.

The project background:

The site comprises a single dwelling and an adjacent café. The café had been running at a loss and our client sought to improve the value of the site through a change of use, to regenerate the under-used building into a 2-bed bungalow.

Our initial application had been refused and the key reasons for refusal included:
• the site’s isolated location within the countryside and outside development framework boundaries;
• local polices which firmly restrict development uses within these types of location.

Following a review of the decision notice, we felt that the Council’s decision to refuse was a very linear response to planning policy. Our application had presented a holistic planning approach which tested the impact of the change of use and this helped us to evidence that this development proposal had sustainable qualities.

We felt the refusal was unjustified and took the decision to planning appeal via the Written Representations route.

Interpreting and applying planning policy:

Reading planning policy on the page is one thing, but assessing its application and considering the implications in practical terms is where an experienced planning consultant really adds value to projects.

In this case, local policy clearly sought to restrict residential development outside settlement boundary and in the countryside. But our careful analysis and interpretation of policy in relation to the proposed change of use, enabled us to justify how the proposed scheme met and responded positively to the aims of the countryside policies, including:

• minimising environmental impacts through a reduction in car travel;
• helping to meet local targets for the provision of housing on previously developed land, rather than greenfield;
• the new dwelling would go some way to meeting housing need in the area;
• and would support local services and rural facilities.

Is my site isolated:

Inevitably when dealing with sites which are in a rural setting, one of the first tests for the viability of development is assessing whether the site is deemed isolated. In this instance, our context analysis and mapping systems helped us to collate the necessary evidence to show that whilst limited, the site benefited from nearby services and public transport systems. Furthermore, our evidence showed how, as the proposed scheme was on previously developed land, it could not be considered an isolated dwelling.

Following both a planning application and appeal, we are delighted that our holistic approach to the project and relevant policies was acknowledged by the Inspector, who agreed that the proposed development would provide a suitable site for housing. The appeal was allowed, and planning permission granted for the change of use to a residential dwelling in South Cambridgeshire.

About Us:

Plainview Planning is an independent planning consultancy. Our team are passionate about planning for development in the right places and work hard to present the best planning case for our clients. If you have a site that you think may be suitable for development, then contact the team via our Landmark enquiries form. This is a new feature that will enable you to explain your site location and for us to appreciate its immediate context, from the outset. Click here to see more.