Green Belt Projects

If you close your eyes and think of a place where you can relax and escape to you may well end up picturing a beautiful location in the countryside 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.
3D view of successful planning permission for green belt project in Sheffield Freehand floor plans sketch of successful planning permission for green belt project in Sheffield Side elevation of successful planning permission for green belt project in Sheffield

 

Ensuring that you pick a suitable plot is essential for success too. Not any old piece of countryside will do. There should be something special about the site, it’s sense of place and how your house could embrace and enhance it. This also means a new building should be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area which could be construction techniques, local materials, and modern interpretation of historical architectural features etc.

A Paragraph 57 house must also significantly enhance its immediate setting which essentially means the landscaping of the area in which the new building is to be positioned must be of an equally high standard, if not higher, than the building itself. Employing a good landscape architect is well worth consideration as their input to the overall scheme can make all the difference in successfully obtaining Planning Permission.
 
As the success rate of new houses permitted in the countryside, under Paragraph 57, is quite low, about 6 out of 10 applications are approved you need to be prepared to commit for a long and relatively expensive journey [several years] where the outcome is not guaranteed. To convince the local Planning Authority you will probably have to pull out all the stops to persuade them your new house is worth it. Essentially, it’s a gamble where there is potentially a lot to lose.
 
Although this process lends itself to Clients with a large, disposable budget there is no reason why the building iteself cannot be a smaller, more modest and affordable construction if all the requirements of the planning policies are met.
 
Extensions to existing buildings in the Green Belt can also be permitted provided they meet other stringent criteria such as maximum size and volume and the same high quality design standards.
 
It’s also worth bearing in mind that building work in the Green Belt is not restricted to building a bespoke, dream ‘forever’ house though, there are many other commercial projects that may need to be built in the Green Belt. i.e. agricultural buildings, sanitation facilities or new housing developments on derelict / redundant farm plots. In some cases, it is also possible to change the use of land in green belt and even gain permission for structures that are officially not allowed in the Green Belt. However, such cases are very rare and the local Planning Authorities would only grant permission if no suitable site for the development can be found in the urban centre or outside the green belt and there is an accessible business electricity source.
 
We have successfully obtaining approval for projects in the Green Belt and would love to help you on your journey. With a network of tried and tested Planning Consultants and other associated professionals we will also work with them to enhance the design and also the likelihood of success.

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