The National Planning Policy Framework states that planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside. There is an exception in paragraph 79e where 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. The bar is thus set very high indeed.
The applicant in this case set out to surmount this very high bar. To add to everything else, the site is in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The local planning authority was not persuaded, and it refused the application. The applicant appealed.
The Secretary of State’s appointed Inspector has today allowed the appeal and granted planning permission for the new country house. The decision endorses a wide range of considerations in support of the proposal, and these serve as useful pointers for other paragraph 79e applications. Thus: extensive knowledge of the “isolated homes” case-law and appeal decisions; award-winning architects (Loyn & Co); expert consultants (Rural Planning Solutions, Seed Landscape Design, Arup, Planning Clarity Legal); the involvement and approval of the Design Review Panel; biodiversity net gain; and a section 106 obligation to ensure certain forms of public awareness and access.
Stephen Whale represented and advised the applicant and the team throughout the appeal process including at the Hearing. He has a particular interest and expertise in the countryside and countryside cases. Stephen also appeared in the Court of Appeal in the leading case on the meaning of “isolated homes”.
For a copy of the decision, click here.