Your (only?) chance to influence planning policy.

Simon Fairlie chapter7 at
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  
national level.

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


Alan Scott
National Planning Policy Framework
Department for Communities and Local Government
Zone 1/H6
Eland House
London SW1E 5DU

Below is Chapter7's draft submission which fleshes out some of these  
points in greater detail.


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).

Affordable Housing
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.

Rural Housing
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.

Green Belt
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 .

Simon Fairlie

Chapter 7
Monkton Wyld Court
01297 561359
chapter7 at

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