If you close your eyes and think of a place where you can relax and escape to, you may picture a beautiful countryside location, surrounded by lakes and mountains or the coast.
For many people building a house in the countryside is a dream and some people make this dream a reality. However, building your dream house in such a beautiful location is not easy as it usually means the site is located in the Green Belt or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Green Belt land refers to an area that is kept in reserve for an open space, most often around larger cities. The main purpose of the green belt policy is to protect the land around larger urban centres from urban sprawl, and to maintain the designated area for forestry and agriculture as well as to provide habitat to wildlife. The Green Belt offers a number of benefits for both urban and rural population. By preventing the urban sprawl, it helps protect agricultural activities and the unique character of rural communities. Urban dwellers, on the other hand, are provided an access to an open space which offers opportunities for outdoor activities and an access to clean air.
It should be fairly obvious if a site or existing building is located in the Green Belt but if you are unsure speak to us for some initial advice or check the Green Belt boundary plans on your local Planning Authority website.
Designated Green Belt areas are not usually allowed permission to be built on, but that does not mean buildings are prevented. There is a special ‘countryside house’ clause in Paragraph 57 [previously Paragraph 55] of the National Planning Policy Framework that does allow new homes to be built in the Green Belt, but only if they are of exceptional design quality or innovative. This is interesting to note as it’s one of the few items of planning law that explicitly demands exceptional architectural standards.