Circling various cities across the Country lie multiple designated ‘Green Belts’, which are notoriously hard to build on due to various policies and laws that have been put in place to protect these areas from urban sprawl. However, under the right circumstances, it is possible for new builds, redevelopments and extensions within a Green Belt area to be granted planning permission.
The newly revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) stipulates that ‘a local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in the Green Belt‘. However there are seven exceptions to this rule. These are:
- buildings for agriculture and forestry;
- the provision of appropriate facilities (in connection with the existing use of land or a change of use) for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation, cemeteries and burial grounds and allotments; as long as the facilities preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;
- the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
- the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
- limited infilling in villages;
- limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the development plan (including policies for rural exception sites); and
- limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land, whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would:
- not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing development; or
- not cause substantial harm to the openness of the Green Belt, where the development would re-use previously developed land and contribute to meeting an identified affordable housing need within the area of the local planning authority.
This set of exceptions help to explain the possibilities that a local authority would consider when reviewing a planning application that falls within a Green Belt. Local authorities are also keen for the new buildings to be in keeping with the characteristics of the area and preserve the visual appearance of the landscape. It is therefore important to consider the design of any new building prior to submitting a planning application.
A good example of how to apply these principles has recently been shown within the Green Belt village of Chobham, Woking where plans for a detached two-bedroom bungalow have just been given the green light. Surrey Heath Borough Council approved these development plans due to the NPPF exceptions of item 5 and 7 listed above which relates to infill development within a village. ET Planning was able to demonstrate that as the site is not on the edge of the village, (being located very centrally within the local residential area), the development will not contribute to urban sprawl. The development has also been carefully designed, with assistance from architects Becker Design, to limit the unnecessary impact of the external presence of the building upon the openness of the Green Belt. The plans submitted to the council for approval showed that the property would be well screened by existing and proposed landscaping, as well as being set back from the road. The designs also showed that high quality materials will be used, including natural timber cladding, in order to preserve the visual appearance of the site.
When submitting plans for a build within a Green Belt, it’s also important to have a conversation with the local Council in order to achieve the objectives of protecting the area. It may therefore be necessary to amend plans, and in the case of the development within the village of Chobham, the Council Officer requested the height of the front boundary wall be reduced from two metres to one metre high with a hedge above to give a softer appearance to the street scene. A window was also added to the front facing wall in order to break up the mass of the building.
If you’re thinking about building within a Green Belt area and would like to discuss the various options, contact ETPlanning for further advice.