Contemporary replacement dwelling judged in-keeping with rural setting

An inspector allowed a replacement dwelling of modern design and increased footprint in the countryside outside an Essex village despite some conflict with the terms of development plan policy.

The proposal concerned the replacement of a detached dwelling occupying expansive grounds, located in an area of sparse and widely spaced development in verdant countryside outside a village. Development plan policy supported replacement dwellings outside settlement boundaries subject to a satisfactory design appropriate to the rural area that would not significantly increase the scale, height and form of the original.

The main issue for the inspector was whether the contemporary design and size of the replacement dwelling would fit in with the character of its surroundings. In his assessment of the scheme, the inspector considered the council had taken the wrong approach in requiring that the dwelling must reflect traditional forms, be rural in character and materials. He considered the low profile, flat-roofed design would assimilate in the landscape and reflect the utilitarian buildings on an adjacent employment site, such that brick, rendering and cladding materials would not create an unduly harsh appearance.

The replacement dwelling would occupy a significantly greater footprint than the existing dwelling, contrary to policy. While the inspector did not find a claimed fallback of implementing permitted development rights by extending the existing dwelling to be decisive, when taken with the council’s tacit agreement to a larger curtilage, involving removal of the adjacent employment allocation in an emerging plan and removal of dilapidated buildings, he considered there would be merit to the larger scale of dwelling proposed relative to its new grounds, particularly as some office accommodation would also form part of the scheme.

Inspector: Jonathan Price; Written representations

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