London Green Belt Council

Green Belt appeal decisions

Housing – New on green field sites


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Updated 11 May 2007, this page includes various recent decisions on appeals against refusal of planning consent. Summarises of appeal decisions arising from refusal of planning consent are available at www.Planning,uk/dcs, with a copy of the decision letter also available for a fee.

Housing appeals have been split into four categories, namely:

        New (green field) including re-use of agricultural land

        New (brown field) being the redevelopment of other categories of land

        Conversions, being the conversion of an existing building, with perhaps an extension.

        ‘Other’ is a miscellany such as extensions, outbuildings, walls, access and other items not covered by the three main categories.

The category decision is ours, and you may disagree! Some cases are hard to categorise, so it may be worth checking out the others.

'SoS' = Secretary of State. 'DETR' is now ‘DCLG’ = Dept for Communities and Local Government.

Retrospective approval given to agricultural worker’s dwelling in Bucks GB. The Inspector ruled that the site’s planning history and the owner’s human rights outweighed the GB policies. Permission was granted in 1995 for a dwelling at the pig farm subject to details on materials etc being agreed before development began. These matters had not been agreed before work began in 1996 and completed in 2003. Details had been submitted but there had been no response to them. Negotiations had been held with the appellant’s agent about landscaping but then an enforcement order was issued. The Inspector ruled the development was therefore unlawful, and the delay by the council did not prevent it taking enforcement action. If the notice was upheld the dwelling would have to be demolished. The appellant was entitled to assume the dwelling was lawful in view of the negotiations and the enforcement order ‘came out of the blue’. DCS 100042335. 9.6.06

Hants country house refused. The plans were of insufficient quality to justify an exception to rural restraint policies, the SoS said agreeing with the Inspector. The site was an unsustainable location and did not meet a local housing need. It would harm the AONB and would not preserve the setting of 2 listed buildings or views from a conservation area. In assessing against PPS7, the extensive energy-saving features did not combine with the classical architectural tradition. They were not sufficiently innovative to comply with PPS7 requirements. DCS 100042327. 9.6.06

Bucks GB agric workers dwelling retained. The site history and Human Rights outweighed the harm to the GB. Permission was granted in 1995 for a detached dwelling at a pig farm subject to conditions on materials etc. Work started in 1996 and was completed in 2002 but without prior approval of the reserved matters. They had been submitted but without response until 2003. The Inspector decided the development was unlawful and that enforcement action was not prevented.. However the long delay was a very special circumstance and, if the enforcement action was upheld the house would have to be demolished. The fact that the council was willing to discuss landscaping supported the appellant’s assumption of the house being lawful. The enforcement notice was a bolt from the blue was unreasonable. Although the original need for the house had gone, it could still be used for general needs of farm workers in the area. DCS 100042335. 9.6.06

Residential and leisure scheme refused in Greater Manchester GB. The 3.25 ha site at a farm was used for an equine business. The main building – Grade 11* listed – was in poor condition. It would be restored to form two houses, with 25 terraced houses built to fund restoration. A replacement equine centre would have 50 stables, a menage and a manager’s house. The Sos agreed the 25 houses would the minimum to secure funding but would extend the urban area into the countryside. This would be compounded buy the equine centre which tipped the balance against development. DCS 100042954. 28.7.06

New village in Shrops GB refused. There was no evidence that it was a sequentially preferable site for a development of that scale. It included aa village hall, a shop, a green and homes on just less than 2ha of grassland in the centre of a former military housing development. It would detract from the openness. Although there was housing on three sides the site’s open nature helped integrate the built development with the surrounding countryside. The scheme could not be regarded as small scale or for limited affordable housing. The benefits of the village green and shop did not outweigh the harm to openness or concerns about limited facilities. DCS 100042767. 14.7.06

House at Kent GB fruit farm rejected. The appellant failed to show a functional need or the farm’s financial viability. The 41ha of apple and pear orchards were falling into decline. The appellant claimed that by living on site he and his family would restore the farm and produce high quality fruit. Otherwise the orchard would be grubbed up. The inspector noted that the trees had not been sprayed or pruned and living on site would not make any difference. The orchard could be sold so they did not need to be grubbed up. DCS 100042531. 30.6.06


Earth-sheltered bungalow refused in Bath & Bristol GB. It would cause material harm to the areas character and appearance. It did not fit within any exception in PPG2. PPS22 indicated that renewable energy projects might be acceptable in the GB if the wider environmental benefits outweighed the harm to the GB. The Inspector ruled that the benefits identified by a single dwelling did not outweigh the harm. Although the impact was less than that of a conventional design it would not be without impact altogether. DCS 100041467. 7.4.06

3,600 homes approved west of Stevenage. The DPM rejected an application for 5,000 homes but approved 3,600. The adopted local plan shows the site as within the London-Stansted-Cambridge growth area. He agreed it was not within green belt policy but the strategic need to bring forward the smaller scheme was a very special circumstance. It would widen housing opportunity and choice, deliver affordable housing and would not be premature in advance of the council reviewing its green belt boundaries to accommodate the structure plan housing requirement. The larger scheme would lead to an over-provision in the period to 2011. DCS 100039516. 2.12.05

Housing scheme rejected in Glasgow GB. The Council granted permission against officer’s advice, arguing it would deliver high quality low-density executive housing for which there was a significant demand. It would support the retention of people earning above-average salaries to create a more sustainable and wealthier community. The Reporter (Scottish equivalent of an Inspector) said it would reduce the openness. In his view, there was no proven need for this housing and residents would be largely car-dependent given the location away from shops, education and employment areas. DCS 100039574. 2.12.05 (NB- The English PPG3 and planning densities do not apply in Scotland)


No homes on Essex cricket ground. Not in the GB but of interest. The inspector refused 34 houses on a village cricket ground already surrounded by housing on 3 sides, and relocation of the cricket ground outside the village. Cricket grounds are normally associated with being in or next to a village both visually and socially. Although some housing would be affordable housing it would add 10% more housing to the village. The proposed replacement ground would substantially change the rural use of the existing open countryside. DCS 100038094. 19.8.05

Green energy house refused in Staffs GB. Located in a secluded valley the water-power for the house would come from an adjacent river via a weir and leat. Excess energy would be fed into the National Grid. The inspector ruled it did not fall within the exceptions listed in PPG2. Although the energy self-sufficiency was in line with sustainability principles its location in a dispersed hamlet was unsustainable. The primary use was residential so excess energy was incidental. DCS 100038100. 19.8.05

Homes on Kent Downs GB out of scale with village. The 6.6ha site had permission for a golf course. The appellant argued that the housing would provide much-needed affordable housing and support the rural community. The DPM decided it would intrude into a narrow gap between two villages and would be inconsistent with the site’s landscape designation and would not be more in keeping that a golf driving range. The scale of development had not been adequately justified by a housing needs survey, so very special circumstances had not been proven. DCS 100037882. 29.7.05

Wilts GB earth-sheltered dwellings refused. The appellant sought approval under PPS7 as sustainable development having a high level of energy efficiency in construction and operation, and would be updated with technology advances. The Inspector decided the houses were not unique or ground-breaking with no need to be located in the GB. They would introduce domesticity and increase activity into a rural location, undermining GB policies. The site access was a single track already serving 10 dwellings so these two would increase its use and harm highways safety and increase the number of car journeys. DCS 34301042. Nov 2004.

Lancs GB occupancy condition unjustified. Outline and then full permission was granted for a dwelling but restricting occupancy to an agricultural worker. The Inspector ruled that repeating the condition at full permission stage was unnecessary particularly as the occupancy was not a reserved matter for subsequent approval. Removal of the condition would not have an adverse effect on the openness of the countryside or on policies to restrict new dwellings in the countryside. DCS 35278473. July 2004. (comment by editor of this website – if you can understand the logic I would appreciate enlightenment!)

1954 permission still stands. In 1954 outline permission was given for 4 houses and 3 were built. In 2000 a lawful development cert confirmed that the erection of the 4th house would be lawful subject to details being approved. Detailed permission was refused. The appellant argued that the new inclusion of a garage was part and parcel of any dwelling, but the Inspector disagreed. However the outline permission required details of the siting and elevations rather than the standard requirement for design and external appearance. He agreed with the appellant that this did not limit the size of the 4th dwelling. By definition he said elevational details included size, shape, mass, bulk and floorspace for assessing the acceptability of the impact. Although the new dwelling was larger than the other 3 it would have a similar appearance given the overall design and garden in which it would sit. DCS 32936128. June 2004.

‘Country house’ refused in Essex GB – On a 32ha farmstead the 5-bed house of contemporary design with staff and equestrian accommodation was refused, despite claims that it should benefit from the policy exemption outlined in PPG7 for new country houses of outstanding quality. The Inspector ruled that, despite the support of CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) the villa-type country house would erode the undeveloped rural nature of the site, given its particularly vulnerable location close to two built-up areas. DCS 304663890. March 2004.

Unauthorised house had minimum impact – the Judge decided the house did minimal environmental damage to the GB compared with the loss of the home, the site not having a rural character or open nature, so the house did not undermine GB objectives. The occupants argued it was illogical to evict them from the house, only to be rehoused by the Council in flats built in the GB. Runnymede BC v Papadopoulos 12 Feb 2004 Ref HQ01X04206

Temporary housing not allowed for Yorkshire GB quail-rearing business – In two similar cases it was decided that to be defined as agricultural activity, the animals must be bred for direct or indirect contribution to the human food chain. In this case the quails were to be food for falcons and other birds of prey, although there was a possibility of a future mixed use supplying food for humans. The appellant wanted temporary accommodation in case the heating or feeding systems failed, which could kill the quails and ruin the business. The Inspector decided the evidence did not show the business had been planned on a sound financial basis, justifying dismissal. DCS 52262267. Nov 2003.

GB boundary error on map not valid - In the adopted unitary development plan the Council incorrectly showed part of the 0.41 ha site as outside the GB. The Inspector dismissed an appeal for a 10-dwelling development on the site. He followed St James Homes Ltd v SoSETR 2001 where it was decided that in ascertaining the meaning of a development plan it was appropriate to examine factual and policy material from a variety of sources, with experience guiding the decision-maker as to the significance of ant extraneous material. The previous plan showed the correct boundary, which could only be altered in exceptional circumstances. The text of the plan made no reference to any such change. DCS 39483010 October 2003.

Surrey GB homes refused – Although the 18 homes would provide affordable housing for key workers there was no evidence of need or how it would be met by this development. Most of the trees on the site would be lost, and trees on the adjoining hillside would reduce daylight and views from the houses, leading to pressure to remove trees outside the site boundary. DCS 42241757 October 2003.

Derbyshire GB bungalow refused – The appellant claimed very special circumstances in that it was an in-fill and careful design would protect the open nature of the area. Also a residential development had been permitted nearby and on the appeal site in the past. The Inspector noted the local plan allowed in-filling within the GB for a small gap of not more than two dwellings within a substantially built-up frontage. This site was generous and open on three sides. Design quality was irrelevant to the basic principle of development of the site. DCS 29472069. April 2003

Warwicks GB property outside residential cartilage – The Inspector upheld enforcement orders for demolition of a single-storey building. He said Sinclair-Lockhart’s Trustees v Central Land Board 1950 did not apply, preferring to follow McAlpine v SoSEnv 1995 which reviewed the law established in Methuen-Campbell v Walters 1979. Although the land formed a valuable amenity to an occupier it did not mean it was intimately associated with a dwelling and therefore within its cartilage, so it had no permitted development rights. On planning merits, the building had a footprint almost that of the original house, harming the openness. There was a danger that it could be converted into a house in its own right causing further harm to GB objectives. DCS 55761467. May 2003.

Wirral development density too high - The adopted unitary development plan sought a density of 20 per ha., being below PPG3 range of 30 – 50 per ha. The Inspector said a low density was justified because the site was on the edge of the GB, a site of biological interest and a conservation area. Parts of the houses and flats development would be four storeys high, with the majority being three storeys, so it would be visually intrusive and incongruous. DCS 32616879. June 2003.

Cambridge expansion eastwards beyond airport refused - Cambridge & Peterborough Structure Plan proposed this expansion but it was rejected by a review panel, being at odds with the concept of a compact city. the panel rejected a proposal to alter the GB boundary beyond Teversham and Fulbourn. A new settlement at Longstanton and Oakington with 8,000 to 10,000 homes was accepted, and increases at Waterbeach, north of Cambridge. March 2003.

N Somerset stables in GB cannot be redeveloped - Planning was refused for housing in a paddock adjoining stables since it conflicted with GB policies and was unsustainable being car-dependent and remote from local facilities. An appeal was made arguing that the paddock was within the curtilage of the stables so it was a very special circumstance. The Inspector decided the land was partly previously developed but the balance of the site was not previously developed. the High Court upheld the Inspector's decision. Withers V SoS TLR 11Nov 2002. DCS C)/2784/2002

Leeds GB housing scheme refused - A site on the edge of a W Yorks village contained agricultural buildings used until 1984, and had previously been a private gasworks. The appellant argued that the site was previously developed and the new housing would complement the character of the village and support the school etc. the Inspector refused two scheme of 34 or 35 dwellings, concluding that the very sensitive site required the highest standards of design but the schemes competed with the village eroding its character and harmed the openness. Despite the existing buildings, he decided the site was not previously developed. Leeds CC 8 Nov 2002. DCS 35650668.

Truffle farmer must remove dwelling in GB - The inspector upheld an enforcement order for the removal of an unauthorised dwelling and refused retention of a mobile home at a Surrey mushroom and truffle farm. There were no permitted development rights to allow the building but if it had been moveable and not used as a dwelling it could have been lawfully used for an agricultural or storage use. A new agricultural dwelling or caravan could be approved in the GB if there was a proven need, but the Inspector was not convinced that someone had to live on the site to monitor the soil acidity which might be affected by acid rain - apparently a key factor in truffle production. Tandridge DC 14 Oct 2002. DCS 535545480

West London housing development approved despite being marginally in green belt - Approval was given to a development of 276 dwellings and a new link road in Feltham. The SoS accepted that only a small part of the link road was in the green belt and was inconsequential.The greenfield development was justified because of its suitability for residential development and the need to accommodate some housing on greenfield land. LB Hounslow 6 June 2002 DCS 36574850.

Warrington Green Belt housing - third round - Bryant Homes were refused permission to build houses on the Green belt, and they lost their appeal. The SoS submitted it for court judgement and the decision was quashed in Oct 2000. A second Inspector ruled that there was a need for additional housing to meet identified needs. Warrington Council challenged the second Inspector's decision because, in the interim, they had allocated additional non-Green Belt land for housing. The High Court agreed with the local authority, so another inquiry is to be held. Warrington BC 15 March 2002. ref CO/4421/2001.

Brentwood youth centre allowed - A secure youth training centre was approved by the SoS despite great concern of local residents. The SoS acknowledged these fears based on previous experience of a youth training centre, but he held that the amenity of residents would not be adversely affected, and the centre would be secure and safe. All the structures would be outside the green belt. Some harm to the openness was off-set by the need to provide additional accommodation for young offenders - a nationaly important matter. Brentwood BC 21 Feb 2002. DCS 36628889.

Housing redevelopment of garden centre & mushroom farm - The site had housing on three sides but they were mainly single storey compared with the proposed two storey houses with steeply pitched roofs. This would harm the openness of the green belt. The garden centre also provided local employment and a retail facility. It's loss would cause increased travel for work, education, shopping and leisure, which was against the promotion of a sustainable form of development. Key worker housing did not justify giving permission, neither did a subsidy for the bus service. Chiltern DC 8 Feb 2002. DCS 37414700.

New rectory approved on ecclesiastical need - A new rectory has been aproved in Penshurst, Kent, despite being in the Green belt, the Kent area of outstanding natural beauty and a conservation area. It will add to buildings regarded as the defining group in the village, all being listed and within a grade 1 listed park and garden of historic interest, except for the existing rectory. The existing rectory required expensive upkeep beyond the incumbant's means, and canon law required a dwelling within every parish - the very special circumstance in this case.The inspector agreed the vicar needed to maintain a 300 year history of living close to the church, and that the existing vicarage should not be sub-divided. The replacement vicarage would suit today's housing needs, and be screened to prevent any visual harm etc to the Green Belt etc. Premission was conditional upon tying the property to the incumbant of the benefice. Seveoaks DC 3 Jan 2002. DCS 3460395

Housing estate expansion in green belt OK - The High Court agreed with the Inspector and allowed 3 extra houses on a 28 house estate. It would complete a 'clear architectural arrangement' benefitting the appearance and surroundings, giving a clearly defined edge to the built-up area. This was the very special circumstance. The local Council argued that the 3 houses should have been assessed against the pre-development site and not as a partly completed estate, but the judge disagreed. 3 Rivers DC v SoSDETR 26 Nov 201 Ref CO/3427/2001.

Heath Road, Potters Bar victory -The Welwyn Hatfield Times reports that the Planning Inspector has ruled that the Council must return the Green Belt boundary back to its original position, and not as erroneously drawn on the map in the Hertsmere District Plan. The appellant developer cannot take advantage of this error in order to build some houses on the disputed land.

Local plan incorrect designation - The High Court agreed with the Inspector who dismissed an appeal for 5 dwellings in the Cheshire green belt. The developer claimed the site had been incorrectly designated as green belt in the 1996 local plan and this had continued into the later plan. The appellant argued that the Inspector was unreasonable in refusing to consider whether the site was properly designated. The deputy judge said the Inspector's decision was inevitable flowing from a proper consideration of the matters put before him. JH Smith (Hale) Ltd v SoS ETR 11 Sept 2001 Ref Co/1277/2001

8 country houses on 42ha rejected - The Inspector rejected a 42ha country park and 8 country houses for wealthy people, being harmful to the Cambridgeshire Green Belt. The appellant said there was a shortage of large houses for the very wealthy in the area and this development would reduce their commuting from other towns, but the Inspector said this was not a very special circumstance and there was no evidence of need. The narrowness of the Green Belt at this point made it vulnerable and fragile. This scheme would erode its openness and damage the visual amenity of the open fenland because the buildings would be visible from a wide area. S Cambs DC 9 Aug 2001 DCS No. 32465467

Staffordshire greenfield housing refusal upheld by High Court - The High Court upheld an Inspector's refusal of 47 houses on a greenfield site. In 1998 the Local plan allocated the site for development, but the Inspector gave greater importance to PPG3 - Housing's emphasis on using previously developed sites. the Court noted an adequate supply of housing land locally and agreed with the Inspector. Midland & Genela Homes v DETR & Staffs Moorlands DC 26 July 2001 ref CO/4601/2000

Existing greenhouses and sheds not classified as a 'brownfield site' - The SoS refused 10 houses on a horticultural nursery in Staffs Green belt. The local council supported it arguing that it would increase the openness of the area and the housing would be visually less intrusive that the existing glasshouses and timber sheds. The Inspector ruled housing as inappropriate in contrast with the existing agricultural use. Although the site adjoined development on 3 sides, it safeguarded land on the other boundary from encroachment. The glass in the greenhouses mitigated their bulk, and the proposed houses would be 50% taller. This agricultural use did not classify the land as 'previously developed' so it was not a brownfield site. S Staffs DC 11 July 2001. DCS No. 34565439

Development site removed from green belt - The Court of Appeal held that a 6ha proposed development site should be removed from the green belt, overturning a High Court decision to uphold the Council's decision to protect the land. The developer argued that the planning history of the site including a series of draft allocations, had established a principle of residential development on the land. The Court of Appeal held that the site did not meet the PPG2 green belt criteria, and had been incorrectly designated. However the Court concluded that this did not mean the site was suitable for development since other policy protection applied. Copas & another v Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead 7 Feb 2001 ref CO/0454/2000.

Glasgow green belt homes approved - 10 areas, totalling 100ha of green belt around Glasgow, will be allocated for 1,800 new executive homes over the next 5 years. Detached family house are in short supply and most of the city's brownfield sites have been redeveloped.

'Infill' defined regarding 7 homes in green belt village - A 7 home development in a village of 3.750 people, washed over by green belt, has been refused. The inspector said that PPG7 (countryside) definition of infilling relating to the filling in of a small gap of houses in a small group of houses should apply to green belt locations. The site was not substantially bounded by existing development and would harm the character of the settlement. Ref - APP/R3650/A/00/1042003. Inquiry on 28 Sept 2000.

Huge greenfield homes schemes are thrown out - 'Independent' newspaper 31 July 2000 - Three big house building schemes in the unspoilt countryside of south-east England will be thrown out by a Government inspector this week. Any one of the schemes, each for 2,500 homes on greenfield sites, would have opened the door to a huge new swath of development in rural Berkshire, the scene of Britain's fiercest battles over the countryside and housing.

Their rejection, after a long planning inquiry, may mean that large, completely new settlements in open country - a particular bugbear of environmental campaigners - are a thing of the past. Although John Prescott, the Secretary of State for the Environment, will have the final say, the inspector, Douglas Machin, makes clear in his re- port, which The Independent has seen, that he has based his conclusions on the new guide- lines for housing planning, which Mr Prescott himself issued in March.

These stress the environmental consequences of inappropriate development and suggest councils adopt a "sequential" approach to allocating housing land - using up all the brownfield land opportunities before greenfield land is considered. This has not been done, says Mr Machin, with the suggested schemes at the villages of Grazeley, Spencers Wood and Shinfield, each of them alternative proposals for 2,500 houses, which the district council, Wokingham, had been told by Berkshire County Council to accommodate.

All are situated near each other in the open countryside south of Reading, which has hitherto been protected from development by the M4 acting as a natural barrier. Locals feared that if the barrier was breached, urban spread would eventually cover the countryside between Reading and Basingstoke, a nightmare they call "Readingstoke".

32 parish councils united to fight the plans, and not least of the effects of the inspector's decision is that the M4 barrier has been preserved. Mr Machin said: "The need for a single major development of 2,500 houses is not justified. The council should determine the scale and location of housing in the area south of the M4 in accordance with the princi ples of sustainability. Those principles are at the heart of the Government's approach to planning for new housing published in March."

There are "fundamental landscape objections" to all three proposals, he says, with the Grazeley scheme in particular "bringing about a dramatic change to an area of relatively undisturbed and tranquil countryside". Furthermore, he says, all three schemes would result in a serious loss of high-quality agricultural land. And in a stinging rebuke to past plan ning policies for housing, he concludes: "The consequences of developing on such a large scale in the wrong place would be grave, irreversible and far outweigh the short-term expedient of meeting a numerical housing target."

Tony Burton, the assistant director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, said that the rejection of the three schemes was "a hugely important decision for the countryside".

Stable owner refused permission for a residential development in the Green Belt. - The owner of a livery stable failed at the High Court to overrule a planning inspector's refusal to allow residential development. The inspector agreed with Solihull MBC in refusing outline permission to build a house and residential annex for occupation by staff or students working or training at the stables. The present operation relied heavily on the personal success of the owner in the specialised filed of competitive show-jumping and was unlikely to continue in its present form after the owner's personal involvement ceased. The judge agreed that the livery business could continue in its present state without the residential accommodation proposed.

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