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New house approved in Essex Green Belt.

RESIDENTIAL development

Stapleford Stables, Stapleford Abbots, Essex.


Proposed Development: New bungalow to replace existing stable block.

Site Context


The site lies on the east side of Stapleford Road, around 150m south of junction with Church Lane. The existing stable block is the only structure on the site, the hard surface area is as indicated on OS – parking area inside entrance, a limited hard surface along the front of the block and an area at the north end used for ancillary storage. Temporary and permanent fencing creates paddocks and the area around the building is somewhat churned up from general activity. Vehicle access is across a wide verge.


Site lies in a relatively open location and is screened by established landscaping. The adjoining site to the south is Kirtons Farm which appears to be a dwelling only, this lies opposite a group of 6 houses south of Woodside Farm. Further dwellings are located in Church lane to the rear.


Description of Proposal


The application proposes replacement of the stables with a single storey two bedroom dwelling. The building has a conventional gabled pitched roof running lengthwise and is indicated as timber clad; principal openings lie along the east face. A detached garage is proposed south of the dwelling in similar materials, approached from a new grasscrete area extending to the site access which is unaltered. Following revisions, a residential curtilage is defined providing a garden area of around 200 sq.m.

Relevant Planning Policies


Adopted Local Plan:


CP2                 Protecting the quality of the Rural and Built Environment

GB2A              Development in the Green Belt

GB7a               Conspicuous development

NC3                 Replacement of lost habitat

NC4                 Protection of existing habitat

RP4                 Contaminated Land

DBE1              Design of new buildings

DBE2              Effect on neighbouring properties

DBE4              Design in the Green Belt

DBE5              Design and Layout of new development

DBE9              Loss of amenity

LL10                Adequacy of provision for landscape retention

LL11                Landscaping Schemes

ST1                 Location of Development

ST2                 Accessibility of development

ST4                 Road safety

ST6                 Vehicle Parking

The above policies form part of the Councils 1998 Local Plan. Following the publication of the NPPF, policies from this plan (which was adopted pre-2004) are to be afforded due weight where they are consistent with the Framework. The above policies are broadly consistent with the NPPF and therefore are afforded full weight.




The Revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (July 2018) states at paragraph 213 that due weight should be given to relevant policies in existing plans according to their degree of consistency with the framework.  The above policies are broadly consistent with the NPPF and should therefore be given appropriate weight.


Epping Forest District Local Plan (Submission Version) 2017:


In September 2018, the Council submitted the Epping Forest Local Plan Submission Version 2017 for examination. As such the LPSV can be treated as a material consideration to be used in the determination of planning applications and be given appropriate weight in accordance with paragraph 48 of the NPPF.


Paragraph 48 provides that decision-takers may give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans according to:

  • the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given);

  • the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given); and

  • the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the NPPF (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the NPPF, the greater the weight that may be given).


In general terms it is considered that the Submission Version of the Plan is at an advanced stage of preparation and the policies are considered to be consistent with the NPPF. As regards unresolved objections, some policies within the Submission Version have more unresolved objections than others. All of these factors have been taken into consideration in arriving at the weight accorded to each of the relevant policies in the context of the proposed development listed below:


SP1                 Presumption in favour of sustainable development

SP6                 Green Belt and District Open Land

SP7                 Natural Environment, landscape character and green infrastructure

T1                    Sustainable transport choices

DM1                Habitat protection and improving biodiversity

DM2                Epping Forest SAC and the Lee Valley SPA

DM4                Green Belt

DM5                Green and Blue Infrastructure

DM9                High Quality Design

DM10              Housing design and quality

DM11              Waste recycling facilities on new developments

DM15              Managing and reducing flood risk

DM16              Sustainable drainage systems

DM19              Sustainable water use

DM21              Local environmental impacts, pollution and land contamination

DM22              Air Quality


Consultation Carried Out and Summary of Representations Received  


Date of site visit:                     04 October 2018

Number of neighbours consulted:      One

Site notice posted:                  17 September

Responses received:     No response received from neighbours.

Parish Council:           No comments received


Main Issues and Considerations


While there is no formal planning history of the site, aerial photographs demonstrate the presence of the building for over 10 years, and enforcement photos suggest the hard surface to the entrance was laid around 2003. Thus, the existing use can be considered lawful. As a stable block with no evidence of agricultural related use, the building and the hard surface areas should be treated as previously developed land.


The proposal sites the building in a similar position to the stable block – the dwelling is wider but shorter than the existing block and is moved further from the entrance. The difference in overall footprint of the buildings is within 2 sq.m, the greater height and roof volume results in an increase of around 26%. The revised proposals include the removal of part of the existing hardstanding outside the residential curtilage. Overall therefore, the extent of development proposed is not considered to have a materially greater impact on the Green Belt.


The proposal has no material impact on surrounding occupiers, all of which are well screened by the existing vegetation which is to be retained. At single storey, no adverse impact on daylight or outlook results.


The access is as existing and visibility is not obscured by the existing trees, no alterations are required to make the application acceptable on highway grounds. The highway authority is seeking a condition to ensure vehicles exit the site in a forward direction and while the revisions establish the principle of this further details will be required.


In design terms, the buildings proposed are consistent with the existing and with each other in the use of a timber cladding on the elevations, a zinc roof is compatible with this form.


The application proposes a new dwelling and has been considered in the context of the impact on the SAC. The site lies outside the 3km zone around the SAC and is exempt from the recreational impact contribution, but will need to deal with the air quality impact. A fuller assessment of the effects of this development on the SAC (‘the Appropriate Assessment’) accompanies this report and should be read in conjunction with the officers review and recommendations.    




In the context of the limited increase in volume, the negligible increase in footprint, the consistency of built form, reduction in hardstanding and less prominent siting in relation to the site entrance, the proposal constitutes development of previously developed land that is not inappropriate in the Green Belt. The proposals have no material impact on the surrounding occupiers in terms of built form or use. Thus the proposals are acceptable.


A number of conditions are required by consultees, but none appear to be required prior to demolition. Subject to securing a S106 to secure the relevant mitigations in respect of the SAC, planning permission is recommended to be granted.

Following the submission and draft approval of a planning application for a new house in place of an existing stable block in the Green Belt En-Plan: Planning & Architecture would like to briefly explain the status of the Planning System in respect of residential development on Brown field Land in the Green Belt.

One of the more significant changes introduced by the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in July presents wider opportunities for development of previously developed land in the Green Belt, but it has attracted little attention in the planning press among the hype surrounding the standard methodology for assessing Local Housing Need and the impacts on emerging Local Plans. 

The old NPPF confirmed that redevelopment of previously developed sites was not inappropriate, and therefore did not require very special circumstances as justification, providing it “would not have a greater impact” on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development (para 89). Addressing this test principally required an applicant or appellant to demonstrate that a combination of footprint, volume, height and spread of the proposed development was no worse than the impact of the existing buildings, with the overall conclusion a judgement call by the decision maker.

The revised NPPF loosens this test by stating that redevelopment is not inappropriate where the proposal would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than existing development or would not cause “substantial harm” to openness and would contribute to “meeting an identified affordable housing need within the area of the local planning authority” (para 145). 

Key change

In a nutshell, this change moves us from a position of having to demonstrate ‘no harm’ to openness to ‘no substantial harm’ when redeveloping brownfield sites in the Green Belt, where schemes contribute to Affordable Housing. This new test is difficult to quantify and could be interpreted on a much wider basis. It will be fascinating to see how it plays out under planning applications and appeals and ultimately via case law over the coming months.

Where schemes do not provide any Affordable Housing the old test in respect of openness still applies. The need to address the impact on the purposes of the Green Belt has been removed, but in reality this will make little difference for most sites.

To see how En-Plan: Planning & Architecture can help you gain permisison on restricted GreenBelt sites please CONTACT US for a free no obligation consultation.

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