Exceptional rural house dismissed

A subterranean house in a Hampshire village failed to win the approval of an inspector.

The rural site comprised an area of grassland beyond the formal gardens of a house situated within a stretch of ribbon development and, in the inspector’s opinion, had the appearance of a field more akin to the rural area than the ribbon development. She held the proposal to be an isolated dwelling in the countryside and not a suitable location in policy terms. In addition, although the house would be set down below ground level and only single storey in height with a partial green roof, it would, nevertheless, be readily visible with substantial areas of glazing, zinc roof and hard surfacing which would draw attention to its urbanising impact on the rural character of the area. Highway safety concerns due to increased traffic along the overall length of the single track access lane would not be overcome by the appellant’s proposed passing place.

In respect of the appellant’s claim that the zero energy Passivhaus house would be of an exceptional design and build specification according with the provisions of paragraph 79(e) of the NPPF, while the inspector commended the environmentally sustainable design, she considered the techniques used were common in sustainable construction and not innovative. Commenting on a similar property approved elsewhere that the appellant drew attention to, she held it had been built to accommodate the topography which was not the case in the scheme before her. Concluding the benefit of a single house in the context of a district shortfall was not sufficient to outweigh the adverse impacts, the inspector dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Rachel Pipkin; Written representations

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