Basement harms green belt spatial openness

An appellant failed to convince an inspector that a large subterranean basement extension to a green belt house would not harm openness.

The inspector was in no doubt that because the proposal would more than double the floorspace of the modestly sized original house, it was a disproportionate addition amounting to inappropriate development in the green belt. In terms of impact on openness, the inspector recorded that this required an assessment of visual and spatial aspects. As the basement would be entirely below ground level, with only minor works to excavate three light wells adjacent flank walls just visible from the lane, he was content that the development would not be perceptible beyond the curtilage and gave significant weight to the lack of any visual impact. However, in relation to the spatial dimension of openness, he held the quantum of development relevant to constraining the spread of development and urban sprawl even if a proposal is not readily seen.

The appellant claimed compliance with an emerging development plan policy permissive of basement developments in the green belt provided they did not have a greater impact on the openness of the green belt and were subordinate to the host property, including by not exceeding fifty per cent of the garden area. The inspector noted that the examining inspector had required modification to this policy as it invited a very large basement extension to a small house with a large garden. He went on to state these concerns were applicable to the appeal proposal, which comfortably satisfied the fifty per cent threshold but would not be subordinate in floor area. He gave limited weight to compliance with emerging policy as a very special circumstance and finding conflict with national policy on development in green belt, dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Rory MacLeod; Written representations


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