Main Changes to Local Plan 2030

Policy HOU5 - Housing Development Outside Settlements (MC51)

Pages 174-177 Policy HOU5 Paras 5.56-5.67

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Delete paragraphs 5.56 – 5.67 and Policy HOU5 - Residential windfall development in the countryside in Housing developments outside settlements section and replace with the following text and revised policy HOU5:

Housing Development Outside Settlements

5.56    In addition to residential windfall schemes within settlement confines, new housing outside settlement boundaries may also make a positive contribution to meeting housing needs across the borough. The NPPF is clear in its desire to promote sustainable development in general within the wider context of boosting housing supply, meeting a range of housing needs and using development as a means of improving the quality of a place and / or its setting.

5.57    In nearly all cases, isolated or remote sites in the countryside (especially on greenfield sites) will not be sustainable in NPPF terms and para. 55 of the NPPF specifically advises against permitting new dwellings in isolated locations unless it meets one of the specified exception criteria.

5.58    However, for proposals that adjoin or are close to existing settlements, it is necessary to consider the relative social, economic and environmental advantages and disadvantages of a scheme as these are the 3 dimensions of ‘sustainable development’ described in para. 7 of the NPPF.

5.59    In assessing proposals, the scale of a development will be a major factor to bring into this equation. For larger schemes, the importance of good accessibility to local services and facilities will be of particular importance taking account of the quality and number of such services and the ability to either benefit or be accommodated by such services. The cumulative effects of windfall schemes on local services and facilities having taken account of the impacts from any allocated sites in the area and any other developments with extant planning permission will need to be considered.

5.60    Although some reliance on the private car is inevitable in rural locations, the availability of good public transport links, cycling and walking routes can help to reduce that reliance and enable better accessibility to services that may only be available in higher-order rural settlements or Ashford itself. Basic day to day services such as a grocery shop, public house, play / community facilities and a primary school should be within a generally accepted easy walking distance of 800 metres in order to be considered sustainable.

5.61    The impact of a scheme on the character of a settlement or rural area can be harder to quantify and, in essence, relates to the inherent qualities that help to define what makes a place and gives it an identity. This will vary from settlement to settlement taking account of its history and heritage and how it has grown over many years within its landscape setting. For example, larger-scale modern extensions to small rural villages have not traditionally been the means by which those villages have grown, especially those in locations away from the main local highway or public transport network.

5.62    A proposal for residential development must also demonstrate that it (and its associated infrastructure) is well designed and sited in a way that can: sit sympathetically within the wider landscape, enhance its immediate setting, be consistent with any prevailing character and built form, including its scale, bulk and the material used does not harm neighbouring uses or the amenity of nearby residents.

Isolated residential development

5.63    The NPPF clearly states that new isolated homes in the countryside should be avoided, unless there are special circumstances. Para. 55 of the NPPF lists a number of exceptions to the general rule of restraint and these are replicated in the policy below, alongside proposals for replacement dwellings. In considering applications for the re-use of redundant or disused buildings, proposals will need to demonstrate that the existing buildings have been on site for a number of years and are no longer needed for their current or previous use. Building shall have been appropriately maintained and not allowed to fall into disrepair as a prelude to suggesting an enhancement to the setting of the area.

5.64    Proposals for exceptional dwellings under criterion (iv) of policy HOU5 shall be subject to a rigorous and independent assessment of their design quality. The views of the Ashford Design Panel will need to be sought and where necessary, proposals amended to ensure their views are reflected. The architecture of a proposal and how that responds to the landscape character and setting of the site will be fundamental in establishing whether the scheme is genuinely exceptional or not.

Policy HOU5 - Residential windfall development in the countryside

Proposals for residential development adjoining or close to the existing built up confines of the settlements listed in policy HOU3a (See MC50 above) will be permitted providing that each of the following criteria is met:

  1. the scale of development proposed is proportionate to the level of service provision currently available in the nearest settlement and commensurate with the ability of those services to absorb the level of development in combination with any planned allocations in this Local Plan and committed development;
  2. the site is within easy walking distance of basic day to day services in the nearest settlement;
  3. the development is able to be safely accessed from the local road network and the traffic generated can be accommodated on the local and wider road network without adversely affecting the character of the surrounding area;
  4. the development is located where it is possible to maximise the use of public transport, cycling and walking to access services;
  5. conserve and enhance the natural environment and conserve any heritage assets in the locality;
  6. the development (and any associated infrastructure) is of a high quality design and meets the following requirements:-
  1. it sits sympathetically within the wider landscape,
  2. it preserves or enhances the setting of the nearest settlement,
  3. it includes an appropriately sized and designed landscape buffer to the open countryside,
  4. it is consistent with local character and built form, including scale, bulk and the materials used,
  5. it does not adversely impact on the neighbouring uses or a good standard of amenity for nearby residents,
  6. it would enhance biodiversity interests on the site and / or adjoining area and not adversely effect the integrity of international and national protected sites in line with Policy ENV1.

Isolated residential development in the countryside will only be permitted if the proposal is for at least one of the following:-

  1. Accommodation to cater for an essential need for a rural worker to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside;
  2. Development would represent the optimal viable use of a heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of heritage assets;
  3. The re-use of redundant or disused buildings and lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting;
  4. A dwelling that is of exceptional quality or innovative design* which should be truly outstanding and innovative, reflect the highest standards of architecture, significantly enhance its immediate setting and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area;
  5. A replacement dwelling, in line with policy HOU7 of this Local Plan;

Where a proposal is located within or in the setting of an AONB, it will also need to demonstrate that it is justifiable within the context of their national level of protection and conserves and enhances their natural beauty.

*These proposals will be required to be referred to the Ashford Design Panel and applications will be expected to respond to the advice provided.