Planning Practice Guidance Update In Relation To Rural Housing

16th August, 2019 by Acorus

Planning Practice Guidance Update

In February 2019 the Government issued a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which followed its original introduction in March 2012.

This document, when it was first introduced, replaced many previous national planning policy documents, i.e. Planning Policy Guidance Notes and Planning Policy Statements (PPSs), which offered guidance on a range of issues, notably Annex A of PPS7 which dealt with Agricultural, Forestry and other occupational dwellings. 

Paragraph 79 addresses the issue of dwellings in the countryside and ‘agricultural dwellings’.  Essentially the text of the former PPS7 (Annex A) on the topic was condensed to the following words;

Planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless one or more of the following circumstances apply:
there is an essential need for a rural worker, including those taking majority control of a farm business, to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside; ….

With the NPPF itself, there are no functional or financial tests identified and it was argued by some that these were no longer applicable unless they were detailed in an up-to-date Local Plan. 

In addition to the NPPF, the Government introduced the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) information, available online, which is to be read alongside the policies in the framework.  

On 22 July 2019 the PPG was updated in relation to rural housing, and notably Paragraph 010 under the heading ‘Housing needs of different groups’ now states:

How can the need for isolated homes in the countryside for essential rural workers be assessed?

Considerations that it may be relevant to take into account when applying paragraph 79a of the NPPF could include:

•evidence of the necessity for a rural worker to live at, or in close proximity to, their place of work to ensure the effective operation of an agricultural, forestry or similar land-based rural enterprise (for instance, where farm animals or agricultural processes require on-site attention 24-hours a day and where otherwise there would be a risk to human or animal health or from crime, or to deal quickly with emergencies that could cause serious loss of crops or products);

•the degree to which there is confidence that the enterprise will remain viable for the foreseeable future;

•whether the provision of an additional dwelling on site is essential for the continued viability of a farming business through the farm succession process;

•whether the need could be met through improvements to existing accommodation on the site, providing such improvements are appropriate taking into account their scale, appearance and the local context; and

•in the case of new enterprises, whether it is appropriate to consider granting permission for a temporary dwelling for a trial period.
Employment on an assembly or food packing line, or the need to accommodate seasonal workers, will generally not be sufficient to justify building isolated rural dwellings.

The above wording is very similar to that which was contained in the former PPS7 Annex A.  

Contact your local Acorus office for more information or see our information sheet on rural dwellings.

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