Casebook: Appeal Cases - Housing: Conversion - Green belt water tower conversion held harmful

The conversion of agricultural buildings and a water tower in the Berkshire green belt to domestic use has been rejected on the grounds that there were no very special circumstances to outweigh the harm caused.

One appeal entailed converting a single-storey agricultural building to two dwellings and converting a bullpen to one dwelling. The second also proposed converting the tower into a dwelling. The inspector remarked that the three-storey tower was a notable, albeit unlisted, landmark in a conservation area.

He noted that it had a small footprint and that only its ground floor would form part of the residential accommodation of the proposed two-bedroom dwelling. Since about 83 percent of the floorspace would be in a new-build extension, he decided that this must be regarded as a material increase in size that would conflict with local planning policy.

He found that conversion of the agricultural buildings would require extensive reconstruction, amounting to inappropriate development in the green belt. He also found that the extent of domestic encroachment into the countryside would undermine the openness of the green belt.

The inspector accepted that the appellant's volume calculations identified a marginal reduction in overall building volume. But he decided that this was so negligible that it was not a sufficient benefit to constitute the very special circumstances necessary to overcome inappropriateness and the harm arising from encroachment into the green belt.

DCS No: 32071170; Inspector: Andrew Dale; Written representations.

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