Planning permission granted despite dwelling situated within the green belt

Planning permission was granted for the erection of an agricultural worker's dwelling in the Cambridgeshire green belt, an inspector being satisfied that there was a justified need for a second dwelling on the holding.

The farm extended to almost five hectares. An existing bungalow was occupied by the appellants and their daughter who all worked on the farm. However, the appellants wished to reduce their labour input and the daughter wished to occupy a prefabricated timber log cabin along with her partner. The council resisted the scheme on the basis that the daughter could continue to occupy the bungalow and was also concerned that the log cabin, measuring 18 metres in length, was overly large.

The inspector concluded that the introduction of a new dwelling onto previously undeveloped land would inevitably reduce the openness of the area. This was mitigated to some extent by its single storey form and reasonably modest footprint, but the proposal would still intrude into the countryside causing significant harm to the green belt.

In terms of its impact on the character of the area the proposal was of rustic appearance and blended well with its surroundings compared to a brick construction. The proposed log cabin also occupied a much smaller footprint than the existing three bedroom bungalow. The size and scale was relatively modest and did not appear as overly large or discordant for its countryside setting. The log cabin was sited close beside the existing dwelling and orientated side-on to face its gable end thereby reducing its visual impact.

The application was accompanied by a need and viability assessment on which the council had obtained its own specialist advice. The inspector noted the council’s acceptance that the farm had a clear prospect of remaining profitable. The appellants had ambitions to expand the business which had already commenced through the introduction of more livestock. However, the success of the expansion would clearly depend on proper care and attention to the animals requiring the continued on-site presence of a full-time worker. It was not reasonable to accept the continued occupation of the bungalow by the daughter and she held that this dwelling was not available. The inspector therefore concluded that the very special circumstances had been found to exist which clearly outweighed the identified harm.

Inspector: Kathryn Saward; Hearing

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