Planning changes open up opportunities for rural housing development

Rural housing opportunities could expand through some of the measures in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), released earlier this summer, says Ros Trotman, associate solicitor at Thrings. 

As well as enabling more small and medium-scale housing developments, the NPPF includes a new planning exception for the creation of an isolated new dwelling in [RT1] countryside, where this is created by the subdivision of an existing dwelling, such as a large farmhouse.

See also: How mediation can help resolve farm planning disputes

The document does not specify the number of new dwellings allowed by subdivision. However, conditions could be attached to the permission, for example tying the new dwelling to the farm in planning terms, so that it cannot be sold away from the holding.

Other planning exceptions for new houses on farms under the old national policy persist, including where:

  • There is an essential need for a rural worker dwelling (including those taking a majority control of a farm business)
  • The new dwelling can be shown to be the most viable use of a heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of heritage assets
  • A redundant or disused building is used for housing and would enhance the immediate setting
  • The design is of exceptional quality

The NPPF also requires local authorities to ensure that 10% of all their housing allocations are on sites of one hectare or less. One hectare would accommodate around 30 new dwellings.

Planning authorities must also continue to support small affordable housing developments in rural locations where housing would not normally be permitted (usually up to 10 new dwellings), with discretion to include some homes for open-market sale on such sites.

Affordable housing is managed by a local authority or housing association and is available to people eligible for housing assistance and who have a connection to the local area.

The NPPF also introduces new entry-level exception sites, aimed at first-time buyers and tenants. These will be adjacent to existing settlements and must be no larger than one hectare and represent no more than 5% of the size of the existing settlement.

Planning conference

Ros Trotman and other planning experts will be speaking at the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants’ rural planning conference on 11 October at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre, Reading.

For more information and to book for Delivering Rural Development in a Complex and Ever-changing Planning System, visit the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants’ website.

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