Sevenoaks District Draft Local Plan Consultation July 2018

Document Section Draft Local Plan July 2018 Protecting, Conserving and Enhancing Green Belt, Landscape and the Natural Environment Green Belt Policy 4 - Development in the Green Belt [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID DLPP905
Respondent Seal Parish Council (Tim Marti… [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 06 Sep 2018
Current Status Accepted
Response Type OBSERVATIONS
Comment

New Policy for the Green Belt

A policy is necessary to maintain the Green Belt, and to remove all or part of any sites within the Green Belt which are allocated for development. This should reflect the first sentences of approved Policies LO8 and GB10 and state the revisions to the boundary required by such allocations, as follows:

"The Green Belt boundary will be maintained with the exception of land excluded from the Green Belt to enable its comprehensive development in accordance with Policies….:

 

  • (then list all or part of the ‘Exception sites’ within the Green Belt which are allocated for development)"

 

A revised map of the Green Belt boundary will be required.

Policy 4 – Development in the Green Belt

Extensions, replacement buildings and subdivision of dwellings in the Green Belt

Draft Policy 4 reflects approved Policy GB4 which includes a guide of 50% for the extension of dwellings, and Policies GB8 and GB9 for non-residential buildings which do not include a guide. However, the first section of Policy 4 switches between ‘buildings’ and dwellings’ and is unclear.

The NPPF does not include a 50% guide, and Seal Parish Council believes that if a guide of 50% is to be retained in the local plan it should apply only to dwellings because of large scale of many buildings in other uses. However, a guide of 50% has the result that the size of some extensions and replacement dwellings has been determined by the size of the original building, and not by an objective assessment of the impact on the openness of the Green Belt.

To clarify Policy 4 and the application of a 50% guide, and to include the important qualifications in existing policies and in the NPPF, the Parish Council proposes the following redraft:

"Proposals to extend or replace buildings in the Green Belt will be permitted where the existing building is lawful and permanent in nature and the design does not materially harm the openness of the Green Belt through disproportionate scale, bulk or visual intrusion. Extensions should be subservient to the original building, and replacement buildings should not be materially larger than the building they replace and be of the same use.

As a guide to the extension or replacement of dwellings, the total floorspace of the proposal (together with any previous extensions, or outbuildings within 5m of the original dwelling) should not result in an increase of more than 50% above the floorspace of the original dwelling (measured externally). The local planning authority will also have regard to the overall scale of the proposal and whether material harm would be caused to the Green Belt.

The final clause of Policy 4 states ‘Applications to extend dwellings or erect or extend outbuildings to dwellings that have been permitted as part of a rural exception scheme will not be permitted.’

The justification for this policy is that such dwellings have been permitted as an exception to Green Belt policy and therefore any further development would be ‘inappropriate’.

The Parish Council believes that a similar policy should apply to other development that was permitted only because its scale would not harm the openness of the Green Belt. Examples include the conversion of barns to dwellings, and the replacement of stables judged to be previously developed land with a dwelling of no greater impact on the Green Belt. The following clause should be added to Policy 4:

"New dwellings and other buildings which were permitted provided they caused no greater harm to the Green Belt than existing structures, will not be allowed to extend if the harm to Green Belt is consequently increased. This applies to the conversion of farm buildings to dwellings, and the replacement of buildings on previously developed land."

Pressure on the housing stock and demographic change will give rise to proposals to convert large houses to smaller dwellings The Parish Council proposes that the last clause of approved Policy H3 should be included in Policy 4 in amended form:

"Within the Green Belt the subdivision of a residential property into smaller units will be permitted if the proposal (including any ancillary works such as car parking provision) would not have a materially greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt."

Residential Outbuildings in the Green Belt

Although the test of harm for extensions and outbuildings is the same under approved policies, the outcome can differ depending on their distance from a dwelling. There have also been proposals to alter building lines to increase the distance to an existing extension to more than 5m so that it does not count under the 50% guide of Policy 4. Similarly, outbuildings to a large dwelling have been placed within 5m to avoid the 40sqm limit in the Green Belt SPD. The draft Plan does not include the provisions of Approved Policy GB3 for outbuildings, which should be reinstated with amendments to avoid these anomalies:

"Outbuildings will be permitted if the building, including the cumulative impact of other outbuildings and extensions within the curtilage of the dwelling, would be ancillary to the main dwelling in terms of function and design and would not materially harm the openness of the Green Belt through excessive bulk or visual intrusion, and would not exceed 40 sqm. Proposals for residential outbuildings within the curtilage of an existing dwelling in the Green Belt, will be treated as an extension under Policy 4 if the proposed outbuilding would be located within 5m of the existing dwelling. Existing outbuildings within 5m will continue to be treated as extensions if the position of the dwelling is proposed to be altered."

Re-use of Buildings within the Green Belt

A network of buildings must be retained to support farming, which is essential to the rural economy and landscape. Their conversion to other uses should take place only if it can be demonstrated that the farmland will continue to be served by other existing farm buildings. Approved Policy GB7 should be retained but amended as follows to protect the viability of agriculture and to discourage the conversion and subsequent replacement of agricultural buildings:

Retain and amend Policy GB7 - Re-use of Buildings within the Green Belt

"Proposals for the re-use of buildings in the Green Belt should meet the following criteria:

a) the proposed new use, along with any associated use of land surrounding the building, will not have a materially greater impact than the present use on the openness of the Green Belt, or harm the existing character of the area.

b) the applicant can demonstrate through a structural survey that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction, and are capable of conversion without major or complete re-construction

c) the original character of traditional agricultural and other buildings is retained.

Where a proposal seeks the re-use of an agricultural building the applicant must demonstrate that there is no longer an agricultural need for the building, or that the building is no longer fit for its agricultural purpose, and that the farm land will continue to be served by other existing agricultural buildings.

Where it is accepted that there is no future agricultural need for the building, the Council will resist future proposals for new agricultural buildings, unless it is apparent that they are of a different type and nature from that previously identified as surplus to requirements".

Equestrian Development and outbuildings on rural land

Equestrian Development has a major impact on the landscape through the subdivision of agricultural land, intensive grazing, the erection of stables, and the spread of field shelters and other structures. Similarly, the acquisition of agricultural land or woodland adjacent to rural dwellings for amenity or other purposes is increasingly common, and can be harmful to the openness of the Green Belt and the character of the AONB’s. The Parish Council believes it is essential to retain approved Policy LT2, with amendments as follows:

Amended Policy - Equestrian Development and outbuildings on rural land

"Proposals for equestrian buildings, facilities and activities will meet the following criteria:

a) the buildings would be appropriate in scale to their setting, well screened from public view, and closely related to existing farm buildings or other groups of buildings.

b) for proposals that involve new facilities for keeping horses, sufficient grazing land and off-road riding areas would be available, and would not harm the amenities of surrounding residents;

c) the proposal would not have an unacceptable impact on the water environment and sewage disposal, and

d) the development would not result in harm to the character of the landscape or the ecological value of the area in which it is situated.

Proposals for equestrian development in the Green Belt will be permitted if the scale of the development is appropriate to a Green Belt setting, and the cumulative impact with other buildings, does not harm the openness of the Green Belt.

Where stables or associated equestrian buildings are proposed they should be designed and constructed in materials appropriate to a rural area, and should not be of a size and degree of permanence that they could be adapted for other use in the future.

The conversion of rural buildings to equestrian centres or stables would be acceptable if the above criteria are met.

The construction of field shelters and stores etc. is not permitted development and their removal can be enforced.

The acquisition of agricultural land or woodland adjacent to dwellings for amenity or other purposes does not confer residential permitted development rights on the land, and enforcement action may be taken to remove outbuildings, play structures, stables etc. built without planning consent on such land".

Agricultural dwellings, Permitted Development and Enforcement

Agricultural buildings of less than 465 sqm floor area are permitted development, unless contrary to other criteria such as proximity to a listed building. The Parish Council suggests the following should be included in a new local plan policy:

  • New dwellings with an agricultural occupancy condition and new agricultural buildings will be assessed as to whether they are ‘reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture’ within an agricultural unit.

 

  • In considering ‘prior approval’ of the siting, design and appearance of agricultural buildings the Council will have regard to potential impact on the most sensitive AONB landscape, including the scarp of the Greensand ridge and the North Downs.

 

 

  • The removal of an agricultural building which was permitted development will be required if its use for agriculture ceases permanently within 10 years of its completion and no other use has been permitted.
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