Small Residential Schemes in the Countryside

14th June, 2019 by Acorus in General

Planning permission for residential development of land in rural areas has traditionally been difficult to obtain.  This is particularly down to planning policy seeking to control development with very few exceptions.  As such planning policy seeks to direct residential development to within established settlement development boundaries, and sites identified as suitable in local planning authority’s (LPA) local plans and development management policies.

Opportunities for sites that fall outside of the above can arise where LPAs don’t have up to date adopted local plans.  Within local plans it has to be demonstrated that sufficient housing development land is available to meet the district’s need for new houses over the following five years, known as a five year housing supply.  If this can’t be demonstrated, land that otherwise would be discounted for such development can be worth considering.  Generally speaking however the land still needs to be shown as being sustainable, which often comes down to distance from nearby towns and villages containing a range of services such as schools, doctors and shops.  But it has been successfully argued in other aspects, particularly in relation to conversion of buildings and re-use of sites.

If a site is considered worth taking forward in planning for residential development there are now a couple of options for doing so.  It is however worth remembering that most development of this nature is somewhat speculative, even if a good planning case can be made.

The newest route to pursue such development is applying under Permission in Principle (PiP).  This is a simplified form of application and deals with just the principle of residential development.  The other usual factors that would form part of the consideration against the wider impact of any development aren’t considered at the initial stage.  This is a useful tool, particularly given the speculative nature of some proposals, as its simplistic nature means level of detail, and so any associated costs, should be minimal.  This however can only be used for smaller schemes of 1-9 dwellings, and no more than 1000 square metres.

In addition to the above is an outline application.  This may be suitable for larger sites, or sites with clearly identifiable issues to overcome.  

Due to the cost and level of detail required for a full application, this usually isn’t a suitable route to pursue as a first step.  However if there are any buildings on the site which may be suitable for conversion through full planning, or permitted development rights in certain cases, these could be used as part of a subsequent planning case for a larger scheme.

Acorus have had recent success with an eight dwelling scheme in Essex, achieved through an outline application, albeit at appeal, and also a Permission in Principle scheme for three to five dwellings in Suffolk.  Both these sites were outside of development boundaries, with much of each case centering on the lack of a five year housing supply in both of the relevant LPAs.


If you have land you think may be suitable for a residential scheme please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Acorus office and speak to one of our Planning Consultants.



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