Tetlow King Planning (TKP) has collaborated with DZ Architecture to obtain planning permission for a family who wished to demolish and replace a dwelling with a larger one in the open countryside and Green Belt close to Abbots Leigh, to the south west of Bristol.
North Somerset Council officers recommended refusal of the application saying that the footprint of the new dwelling was around 140% larger than the existing dwelling and as such was contrary to policies in the Local Plan on replacement dwellings in the countryside. Officers argued that they were correctly applying a policy based restriction that any increase that resulted in a dwelling being 50% larger than the one it replaced was simply unacceptable in the Green Belt.
TKP argued most importantly that the 50% limit on increases in size of the footprint was purely a guideline and did not reflect the actual wording from the policy in the Local Plan. We argued that whilst the level of the percentage increase was material it was only a starting point; councillors could properly exercise their judgment, taking into account inter alia the quality of the design, the materials proposed, the lack of objection and the position in a small valley which meant the new dwelling would not be prominent or harmful to the area.
TKP argued that the percentage increase was closer to 90% than to 140% because there was no clearly laid out method of calculating the figure. We were also able to point out other examples where the councillors, and indeed officers of the Council under delegated powers, had approved applications that exceeded the 50% guideline. This emphasised the point that each case can be considered on its own specific merits. Seeking to apply a blanket policy based on percentages and numbers and ignoring the actual quality and impact of a development as the officers had appeared to have done in this instance was inappropriate.
TKP further argued that special consideration should be given to the family’s desire to build to a much higher level in the Code for Sustainable Homes than the Council could actually require through planning policy. The policies of the Council own Local Plan indicated that weight should be given to this issue.
The application was the subject of a Committee Site Visit and went through three Committee meetings, recommended each time for refusal, before finally being approved at the overarching Planning and Regulatory Committee.