The council claimed that the dwelling as built was "materially larger" than the one originally present on the land. While accepting that its policies did not define this term, it referred to a 30 per cent rule applied to extensions to dwellings in the green belt. It claimed that any former outbuildings within the curtilage of the dwelling should be excluded from the assessment.
The inspector decided that the 30 per cent rule did not apply to replacement dwellings and found nothing in PPG2 or council policy to suggest that outbuildings should be excluded when assessing their volume. He referred to Sevenoaks District Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and Dawe , where the High Court held that an inspector was entitled to conclude that a free-standing garage was part of a dwelling.
The floor space of the original house, a barn and a courtyard building amounted to 1,500m2 and the replacement dwelling totalled 1,700m2. The inspector took the view that this 13 per cent increase did not result in a dwelling that was materially larger than the former one and therefore did not involve an inappropriate form of development in the green belt.
He agreed that the replacement dwelling was somewhat more prominent and its neo-classical design was not entirely convincing. However, he judged that it had a balanced and well-proportioned appearance which, coupled with a proposed landscaping scheme, resulted in a more comfortable and picturesque relationship with the surrounding landscape.
DCS Number 100-069-359
Inspector David Morgan; Hearing