August Ponderings

August Professional Ponderings

I am aware that many of you are in full swing with harvest but should you find a spare moment, the Planning & Development Team write to provide you with an insight into a topic that comes across our desks on a regular basis – isolated homes in the countryside.


Whilst planning policy is usually fairly prohibitive when it comes to building homes in the countryside there are exceptions and these generally fall into the following categories:

  •  There is an essential need for a rural worker, including those taking majority control of a farm business, to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside. If you are considering building a house to support a rural business then it is important that a planning justification is provided, clearly stating the ‘essential need’ for a rural worker to live on the farm. Examples can include a need to live within sight and sound of the livestock to ensure welfare standards, particularly at critical times such as lambing and calving. Other considerations include security issues (intruders) or the lack of available housing within close proximity to the farming enterprise. If a dwelling is needed to support a new business then it is worth noting that the planners may only allow a temporary dwelling in the first instance, giving the agricultural business time to establish itself and generate profit, prior to consent being granted for a permanent dwelling.


  •  The development would re-use redundant or disused buildings and enhance its immediate setting. This enables dwellings to be constructed in the open countryside through conversion of existing buildings which have become surplus to requirements, i.e. too small or impractical for modern day farming machinery. It is worth noting that in addition to this supportive planning policy, there is also the opportunity to explore Permitted Development Rights and in particular, Class Q (conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses), which we have covered in the Ponderings in the past.


  • The development would represent the optimal viable use of a heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of heritage assets. This scenario is limited to those that have listed buildings on their agricultural holding and enables an element of development to future proof heritage assets. The concept is that by allowing development on the farm which might otherwise have been unacceptable, the profits generated can be used to ensure that the heritage asset is restored. Due to the stringent rules and regulations surrounding works to listed buildings, any profit generated will be limited to that necessary to secure or restore the listed building.  


  • The development would involve the subdivision of an existing residential dwelling. Whilst of limited application to many, Government Policy does support the subdivision of existing dwellings and this may prove useful particularly if additional accommodation is needed for a farm worker, for example. If this is an option you wish to explore, careful consideration must be given to the layout of the dwellings, their amenity space and access arrangements, in order to protect value.   


  • The design is of exceptional quality, in that it: - is truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas; and – would significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.  Although this is an option for landowners, it is worth noting that to achieve a building design which is of sufficient quality to satisfy the Planning Authority, it will need to incorporate the highest of design standards and this has the potential to come with very expensive build costs!


We are regularly dealing with clients who wish to obtain dwellings in the open countryside, for a variety of reasons and despite there being a presumption against development in the open countryside, we have a good track record in providing the right planning justification to secure positive outcomes for our clients.


On a completely separate note, Corby Borough Council are currently undertaking a consultation on their Part 2 Local Plan, which closes on the 16th September 2019. Should you have any potential development land in the Borough and wish to review its potential with a member of the Planning & Development Team, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Tristan Peck

Planning & Development Surveyor

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