Original use of fire damaged green belt building unclear

Plans to replace a fire damaged building in the Essex green belt with a new dwelling were in disarray after an inspector decided that the appellant had not proven that it had been used residentially.

The site lay adjacent to a terrace of six houses and the inspector noted that it contained a large building which had no roof other than charred roof timbers. The appellant produced a press article from 2008 which showed the building on fire and which referred to the structure as a derelict farmhouse and as a boarded up bungalow. The national planning policy framework did support the replacement of a building in the green belt provided it was not materially larger than the one it replaced. But in the inspector's opinion the replacement building must have the same use as the former building for this criterion to apply and he was unable to conclude that the appellant had established that the derelict remains had been used as a dwellinghouse. Consequently, it was inappropriate to a green belt and the proposed siting some distance from the original would also undermine the character and appearance of the green belt.

Inspector: David Murray; Written representations

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