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Good news for eco self-builders

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Joined: 21 Nov 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 14 4:18 pm    Post subject: Good news for eco self-builders  Reply with quote    

[sensitive information] in Torridge District, North Devon, are pleased to announce that they have been granted temporary 3 year planning permission on their unusual self-built live work unit and associated outbuildings...so we can carry on conserving Nature, working towards a level of self- and community-sufficiency, and developing our land-based business.
It has been a tortuous 3 year battle with planning authorities to get this far, but I hope this result will inspire others to self-build and then apply for permission retrospectively...as there is almost zero chance you will get permission for a low impact dwelling such as ours if you apply for permission beforehand.
I have put details of our project elsewhere on the forum, but am not mentioning our project name in this particular post. Before we were granted permission by the inspector, the local council did an internet search and used posts like this against us.


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44319
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 14 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Glad you got consent but it doesn't sound very good news in the broader sense, it's not like they changed their policy or anything, just that you got lucky with being granted consent retrospectively.


Joined: 21 Nov 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 14 7:08 pm    Post subject: Thanks, but... Reply with quote    


but I would say it was slightly more than 'getting lucky'. I am aware of two other low impact projects in Devon (Steward Wood and Land Matters communities) that have been given consent. Land Matters at least was also by the inspectorate, retrospectively. Both were given consent partly on the basis of their 'permaculture' approaches, (problems with the term / approach admitted). As in our case the permaculture approach was seen as part of the justification (quite rightly) for the appelants living at their place of work, and thereby saving energy.

Planning guidance does sometimes change in response to societal needs, even minority needs, as evidenced by the recent 'One Planet' Welsh national policy, and as evidenced by the term 'low impact development' and 'permaculture' in different local policies nationwide, if not yet national policy.

The fact of the 'material consideration' clause in national planning policy means that in practice, any individual project benefit or circumstance can add weight to a project gaining permission, even where the project doesn't adhere to all the local and national policies more widely. In our case mental health needs was one material consideration, permaculture was another material consideration, the fact that our building is not visible and has no permanent foundations was another material consideration, and so on.

The more projects that invoke similar or identical material considerations in a given area, the more likely that local authority is likely to reflect that in Local Plan amendments in the long run (in my view) and the more it happens nationally, the more national policy is likely to change (in my view) as it has in Wales.

Additionally, the inspector invoked the relatively new National Planning Policy Framework which has a clause stating 'a presumption in favour of sustainable development', as another material consideration that overruled local council policies. (Yes it is strange that official policies themselves are viewed as material considerations when opposed against the bulk of planning policies related to a case).

Cynically, I am the first to admit that the new, very concise yet vague NPPF is an excuse for big developers to rush through developments that they can argue are 'sustainable' (e.g. by sticking a load of solar panels on the roof) but the silver lining, meanwhile, may be that more low impact projects are also allowed. This doesn't mean that the policies won't get more strict again -I'm sure they will.

Again cynically, they will probably get more strict as they realise their big-business favouring NPPF is also allowing us little guys to nip through the massive hole they have made.

But while the climate is relatively favourable, and while the odds may still be against succeeding (you're right that luck did play a big element in our case) I would say to anyone who can hack the stress, 'go for it'.

Just my thoughts for your consideration.

Ty Gwyn

Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 4308
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 14 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Applying for retrospective planning did`nt do that hobbit house in Pembrokeshire any good,it was announced last week it is to be demolished.

Mistress Rose

Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 11394

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 14 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I think you have made a very valid point about 'sustainable' being misused. There is currently a debate going on in a town near us where the council wants to build 3500 new 'sustainable' houses on arable farm land. Nobody but the ruling party in the council wants it, apart possibly for the developers.

Ben Law got permission for his house but only for his lifetime. As Ty Gwyn said, the hobbit house has to come down, which imo is a great shame as it looked brilliant. Yet somehow these thousands of ordinary houses will be built I expect.

What is really needed is for some government to take the bull by the horns and work out exactly what is needed to house the people who really need housing. I suspect most of it will be low cost, local council rental or even hostel accommodation to suit the budgets of those that need the housing. No other major development should be allowed, but individual houses for particular uses should be considered.

Good luck with yours btw.


Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34032
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 14 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I imagine the 3,500 families who move into those houses will want them, too.


Joined: 13 Oct 2006
Posts: 6517
Location: Dordogne
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 14 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

So, have they imposed any restrictions?
Is it a AOC or local housing need or what?

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