Your (only?) chance to influence planning policy.
chapter7 at tlio.org.uk
Sat Feb 12 13:48:09 GMT 2011
The Government is consulting on a new national planning framework for
England until 28th February. All the planning policy statements such
as PPS7 on the Countryside, and PPS1a on Climate Change are likely to
be replaced by one document The Government are allegedly looking to
reduce several hundred pages of guidance into ten or twenty pages.
This is really important for future people involved in low impact
development, permaculture projects, ecovillages etc. It is
potentially a threat as policies that have enabled projects to get
planning permission in the past may be removed. However, it is also
an important opportunity to get supportive policies added at the
Chapter 7 has been working with the Permaculture Association to
identify planning policies that we'd like to see retained or added.
Here in bullet point form are the main points we have identified.
1. A definition of "sustainable Development" in the framework that is
robust and stringent, and emphasises ecologically sustainable
development, not just sustainable economic development.
2. Retention of a policy to allow agricultural, forestry and other
rural workers to build homes in the open countryside. This is
currently contained in Annex A of PPS7 (Planning Policy Statement 7).
3. Introduction of a national policy for Low Impact Development,
similar to the "One Planet Development" policy contained in TAN6
(Technical Advice Note 6) in Wales.
4. Introduction of policies that are supportive of self-builders,
particularly where homes are ecologically sustainable and/or affordable.
5. We would like to see the encouragement of local food production
and forestry enterprises on green belt land.
6. Introduction of policies that provide for people who wish to have
part-time access to agricultural land on the edge of existing
7. Introduction of policies that make it easier for those who choose
to live in a mobile home, cabin or other low impact dwelling to do so
— whether or not they are classed as gypsies or travellers.
We need to demonstrate to the government that there is a demand for
these kinds of development. If you agree with some or all of these
points please write a submission by the 28th February - in your own
words - and send it to:
planningframework at communities.gsi.gov.uk
National Planning Policy Framework
Department for Communities and Local Government
London SW1E 5DU
Below is Chapter7's draft submission which fleshes out some of these
points in greater detail.
NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK
Sustainable Development .
We welcome the proposal in the Green Paper Open Source Planning to
"establish a presumption in favour of sustainable development". This
will require national planning guidance to provide a robust
definition of what "sustainable development" constitutes. We submit
that any definition should include the following areas:
• minimization of resource use (as defined for example by 'ecological
• climate change and carbon emissions
• minimization of energy use, especially fossil fuels
• minimization of transport demand and car use 'minimization of waste .
•enhancement of biodiversity
• conservation and enhancement of natural resources such as water,
soil quality, woodland etc.
• adequate access to land, resources and facilities for all
households within a given community.
Sustainable Rural Development
Rural development has been hampered in recent years by restrictive
locational policies that have tended to equate sustainability with
location on the edge of settlements and required development in the
open countryside to be "strictly controlled". While Chapter 7 agrees
that development in the open countryside needs strict control, too
often this has been interpreted to mean "no development at all".
There are often obvious transport advantages in siting developments
on the edge of settlements, but sometimes, particularly in the case
of land-based enterprises, these can be outweighed by other
sustainable advantages, such as more effective land management, the
opportunity to use natural sources of energy, restoration of moribund
rural economies and agro-ecologies, the avoidance of "reverse
commuting" from town residence to rural employment etc.
We would therefore support a presumption in favour of sustainable
development in the open countryside, provided that the definition of
sustainability is stringent, and that its application is strictly
controlled. We believe there is a case for expanding the "country
house" policy, currently found in paragraph 11 of PPS 7 to include,
not merely buildings exhibiting "the highest standards of
contemporary architecture" (which anyway is highly subjective) but
those embodying the highest standards of rural sustainabi!ity, as
defined in national policy guidance.
We also suggest that framers of the new policy guidance should look
at the Welsh "One Planet Development" policy in section 4.15 of
Technical Advice Note 6 (the Welsh equivalent of PPS7). Whilst we
would not advocate that this should be copied word for word, and
accept that it is too detailed for the kind of policies envisaged in
the new national planning guidance, we submit that something along
these lines should be introduced into English policy guidance.
Agricultural Tied Dwellings
We are concerned that the provision for agricultural tied dwellings
should not be swept aside in the new reforms. Current agricultural
prices on the one hand, and rural house prices on the other are
respectively so low and so high that farmers and horticulturalists
cannot possibly pay off the cost of a rural dwelling in the open
market through a normal agricultural enterprise.
It is therefore vital that some sort of exceptions policy should
remain so that farmers, and particularly new entrants into farming,
can live close to their enterprise. However the agricultural tied
dwelling system has been open to abuse, from people posing as
agriculturalists and then abandoning the enterprise that justified
the dwelling and getting the agricultural tie removed. This in turn
has meant that planning officers are understandably resistant to
applications for agricultural dwellings, and bona fide farmers often
find it extraordinarily difficult to obtain permission.
The main reason for this is the weakness of the standard agricultural
tie, which does not tie the dwelling to the enterprise, even though
it is the proposed enterprise which has to justify the dwelling. The
moment permanent planning permission is acquired, the applicant can,
and sometimes does, sell the dwelling off separate from the land
which justified the permission.
This problem could be rectified by encouraging local authorities to
impose conditions that tie the dwelling to the land or the enterprise
which justified it. We also suggest that England adopt the occupancy
condition now used in Wales, whereby any tied dwelling which is no
longer suitable for agricultural or another rural industry, should
not be released onto the open market, but should becoe prioritized
for affordable housing (T AN6 4.13)
Self Built Homes
Chapter 7 was very heartened to see support for self-built homes in
Open Source Planning, and we hope to find this reflected in policy
guidance. Self build provides the opportunity for some low income
people to house themselves at little or no expense to the taxpayer
and it is shameful that it has been given so little support in
planning guidance over the last fifteen years. It is particularly
helpful for young people in villages and rural situations who face
very high house prices, but often have good access to land and
neighbours with the necessary machinery and manual skills.
However the problem has been finding land with permission at an
affordable price. Even when land is potentially available the rural
exception policy is of no use to an individual because it does not
accommodate one-off developments (although the former South
Shropshire District Council found a way of allowing one-off
dwellings under the rural exceptions site policy). We therefore
(a) that local authorities should be encouraged to provide mechanisms
enabling one-off self-builders to construct affordable housing, with
legal agreements ensuring that it remains affordable over subsequent
changes of ownership and occupation ; and (b) that potential owner/
occupier/self-builders requiring one-off affordable housing should be
deemed to constitute a "need" irrespective of whether any local
housing survey has been carried out.
We would also support a shift away from the allocation of a
restricted number of sites for housing in and around villages (which
causes land scarcity and hence inflated land values) and towards
criteria-based policies which allow for highly sustainable affordable
housing on any site within a prescribed wider area (for example,
contiguous with the settlement).
The definition of affordable housing in PPS3 at the moment restricts
the use of the term solely to housing for local people. This
discriminates against people who happen to have no historical
allegiance to any particular location. It is right that local people
should have priority over incomers as regards access to a limited
supply of affordable housing. But people who have not been resident
in one location for the required amount of time still have need of
housing, and if they are on a low income they will need affordable
housing, and should not be defined out of eligibility.
Since its founding in 1999 Chapter 7 has experienced rising demand
for houses in rural locations from people who want to "downsize" and
establish a closer connection with the natural and agricultural
world, without necessarily undertaking a full time profession in
agriculture (the boom in allotments and local food growing is part of
the same trend).
To date the needs of these people have not been catered for by the
planning system, and some have opted to buy bareland in the open
countryside and try and find a way around the planning system (for
example by pretending to be full time agriculturalists, or by trying
to obtain a certificate of lawful use through the four year or ten
year rule). This has undermined the credibility of the planning
syste, and made planning authorities unduly suspicious of bona fide
farmers and horticulturalists.
We believe it is the function of the planning system to meet people's
needs in a way that does not damage, and preferably enhances, the
local and wider environment. We therefore urge that there should be
provision for these needs, which, with the application of sensible
policies, can be accommodated sustainably on the edge of villages.
We view that Community Land Trusts offer an appropriate vehicle for
providing such housing. We also consider that where access to land is
required, this is better achieved by providing collective access to a
co-operatively owned area of agricultural land, rather than providing
houses with large individual plots or paddocks. Individual plots
could easily revert to domestic use, or they might become neglected,
and they would lead to very low density development that would be
unhelpful on the edge of an existing settlement, and unsustainable on
a wider scale.
We are pleased that Open Source Planning, states that Green Belts
will continue to be protected. These areas, close to conurbations are
ideal for providers of local foods, and woodland products, and such
enterprises would be invaluable fir keeping urban schoolchildren in
contact with the source of their sustenance. Unfortunately greenbelt
land is mostly inaccessible to growers and foresters, because the
hope value makes it prohibitively expensive. We advocate that green
belt policies should be adjusted to facilitate the establishment of
farms and forestry enterprises providing goods for local consumption
- for example by allowing the development of agricultural dwellings
tied to productive holdings, farm shops, training centres in land
based activities etc.
Caravans, Cabins and Low Impact Dwellings
Caravans, mobile homes, wooden cabins, yurts and other forms of
temporary accommodation can be highly sustainable as they are usually
compact, easy to heat, have low embodied energy, and have a
relatively low impact on the surrounding natural landscape. We would
like to see it made easier for those people who prefer to live in
caravans, mobile homes, cabins, yurts or low impact dwellings to do
so — whether or not they be classed as gypsies or travellers (and we
agree that the settled population and travellers should be treated
equally). Mechanisms such as rural exception sites should be open to
mobile homes and low impact dwellings as well as bricks and mortar.
The government would do well to commission research into sustainable
and architecturally satisfying mobile home sites, with a view to
providing advice on best practice.
Any comments on this are welcome .
Monkton Wyld Court
chapter7 at tlio.org.uk
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