Casebook: Appeal cases - Housing: new build - Scope for control justifies green belt home

An inspector has granted planning permission for a substantial dwelling in the metropolitan green belt in Hertfordshire on the basis that it would provide a greater level of control over possible future extensions.

The original house on the site had been destroyed by fire. The local planning authority granted permission in 1991 for a replacement house and garage in the belief that it would increase the original floor area by 30 per cent, whereas it actually entailed a 260 per cent increase.

A further permission granted in 2001 took into account the permission already granted but restricted the size of a basement.

The appellants proceeded to build a house that did not accord with either the 1991 or 2001 permissions and included a very large basement. After an enforcement appeal was dismissed, the appellants proposed a reduction at ground and first-floor levels to compensate for retaining a basement of the size desired.

The appeal proposal showed 905m2 of floorspace on the ground and first floors along with a basement of 451m2 incorporating a private cinema, games room, kitchen and gym. The inspector decided that the scheme was inappropriate to the green belt because it involved a disproportionate increase in size when compared with the original house of 380m2.

However, she accepted that if the appeal was dismissed it would be possible for the appellants to apply for a lawful development development certificate for the existing house. Since any such certificate would not be bound by conditions, she reasoned, it would be possible to extend the dwelling under permitted development rights.

She concluded that it was preferable to grant permission for the appeal proposal to reflect the extent of the building works, provided the basement area was limited in size and permitted development rights were removed.

This would ensure that further damage to the openness of the green belt would not arise and this consideration amounted to the very special circumstances needed to justify the development, she held.

DCS No: 49143308; Inspector: Daphne Mair; Inquiry.

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