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Rural Housing Planning Advice Shropshire En-Plan: Planning Consultants for Whitchurch Shrewsbury and Shropshire and Chester and Birmingham

RURAL HOUSING PLANNING ADVICE

SHROPSHIRE

En-Plan: Planning & Architecture have been appointed to offer planning and design advice on a rural exceptions housing site in Shropshire.

Following an initial consultation with the client En-Plan: Planing & Architecture are now working in partnership with a local Housing Association to develop a site for affordable housing along with open market properties that will allow for the delivery of the scheme as "enabling development" in the village of Doddington.  This brings us onto the questions of "what is affordable housing" and also "how can you get permission for residential development in the countryside?".

Affordable housing and rural exception sites: Frequently asked questions

 

1.What is affordable housing? The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines affordable housing as ‘housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market. It must also meet one of a number of more specific definitions related to a range of tenures including rented and low cost home ownership.

Affordable housing in England refers to housing that is priced at a level affordable to individuals and families on low to moderate incomes. It aims to address the housing needs of people who are unable to afford market-priced housing but do not qualify for social housing.

In England, affordable housing can take various forms, including:

  1. Shared Ownership: This allows individuals to part-buy and part-rent a property, typically through a housing association. Buyers purchase a share of the property and pay rent on the remaining portion.

  2. Discounted Sale: These are properties sold at a discount to their market value. The discount is usually offered by a local authority or housing association, and the property is typically sold to individuals who meet specific eligibility criteria.

  3. Affordable Rent: Housing associations and local authorities provide properties for rent at below-market rates. Affordable rent properties typically require tenants to meet certain income requirements and are subject to rent controls.

  4. Rent to Buy: This scheme allows individuals to rent a property for a set period with the option to buy it afterward. A portion of the rent paid during the rental period is set aside as a deposit toward the purchase.

  5. Community-Led Housing: These are projects driven by local communities to develop affordable housing that meets their specific needs. Examples include cooperatives and self-build schemes.

 

The availability and eligibility criteria for affordable housing vary depending on the local authority or housing association involved. Additionally, different schemes may have income limits and other requirements for applicants. It's important to note that the affordability and availability of housing can vary significantly across different regions in England. The demand for affordable housing often exceeds the supply, and there can be long waiting lists for these properties in certain areas.

 

2.What is a rural exception site? A rural exceptions site, also known as a rural exception site or rural exception site policy, is a planning policy in England that allows for the development of affordable housing in rural areas where housing development would not normally be permitted.

Typically, rural areas have strict planning regulations that limit or restrict new housing developments in order to preserve the rural character and prevent urban sprawl. However, rural exception sites are an exception to these restrictions and provide an opportunity to address the housing needs of local communities.

The purpose of rural exception sites is to facilitate the provision of affordable housing specifically for local people with a genuine need for housing in rural areas. These sites are typically small-scale developments and are often located within or adjacent to existing villages or settlements.

The planning policies for rural exception sites are designed to ensure that the affordable housing provided remains affordable in perpetuity and is reserved for those with a strong local connection, such as current residents or people with family or work ties to the area. This helps to address the issue of local people being priced out of their own communities due to high property prices.

The development of rural exception sites is usually led by local authorities, housing associations, or community-led housing initiatives. These organizations work in collaboration to identify suitable sites, secure planning permission, and oversee the development process to ensure that the resulting housing meets the identified needs of the local community.

It's worth noting that the specific policies and regulations related to rural exception sites may vary across different local authorities and regions in England.

 

3. Why might we need affordable housing in our village?  There are several reasons why affordable housing may be needed in a village:

  1. Local Housing Needs: Affordable housing is necessary to meet the housing needs of local residents, particularly those on low to moderate incomes. It ensures that people who work in the village or have strong community ties can afford to live there, fostering a diverse and sustainable community.

  2. Retaining a Vibrant Community: Without affordable housing options, many individuals and families may be forced to leave the village in search of more affordable housing elsewhere. This can result in a loss of community cohesion and the displacement of essential workers, such as teachers, healthcare professionals, and local employees.

  3. Supporting Local Businesses: Affordable housing helps sustain local businesses by providing a customer base within the village. When people can afford to live in the area where they work, they are more likely to support local shops, services, and amenities, contributing to the village's economic vitality.

  4. Tackling Social Exclusion: Affordable housing helps to combat social exclusion and inequality by ensuring that individuals and families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds have the opportunity to live in the village. It promotes social integration, breaks down barriers, and fosters a sense of belonging within the community.

  5. Meeting Legal Requirements: Local authorities in England have legal obligations to assess and address the affordable housing needs in their areas. They must work to provide a mix of housing types and tenures, including affordable housing, to meet the demands of their communities.

  6. Sustainable Development: Including affordable housing as part of a village's development strategy contributes to sustainable development principles. It helps to minimize commuting and reduces the strain on transportation infrastructure, energy resources, and the environment.

 

By providing affordable housing options within a village, local authorities and communities can ensure that the village remains inclusive, diverse, and sustainable, with a thriving local economy and a sense of community well-being.

 

4.Why is there so little affordable housing in rural communities?  There are several reasons why there may be a shortage of affordable housing in rural communities:

  1. Limited Land Availability: Rural areas often have limited land available for development due to factors such as protected green spaces, agricultural land, and strict planning regulations aimed at preserving the rural character. This scarcity of land makes it challenging to allocate space for affordable housing projects.

  2. High Land and Construction Costs: In rural areas, land and construction costs can be relatively high compared to urban areas. This can make it financially challenging to develop affordable housing, as the costs may not align with the lower incomes and affordability requirements of the local population.

  3. Lack of Infrastructure: Some rural areas may lack the necessary infrastructure to support new housing developments, such as roads, utilities, and public transportation. Developing or improving infrastructure can be costly and may pose challenges in remote or sparsely populated areas.

  4. Opposition to Development: In some cases, there may be resistance from local residents to new housing developments in rural areas. Concerns about increased population density, strain on local services, and impacts on the rural landscape and character can lead to opposition and challenges in obtaining planning permission.

  5. Funding Constraints: Funding for affordable housing initiatives in rural areas may be limited. Government grants, subsidies, and financial support for affordable housing projects may be less accessible or insufficient, making it harder to develop affordable housing compared to more urbanized regions.

  6. Lack of Developer Interest: Developers may prioritize more profitable projects in urban areas, where demand and potential returns on investment are higher. This can result in a lack of interest or incentive to undertake affordable housing developments in rural communities.

 

Addressing the shortage of affordable housing in rural communities requires a multi-faceted approach that involves collaboration between local authorities, housing associations, community organizations, and government bodies. Strategies may include incentivizing developers, providing funding and support, revising planning policies, and exploring innovative solutions such as community-led housing initiatives or repurposing existing buildings for affordable housing purposes.

 

5.Will the houses always remain ‘affordable houses’? Housing association properties developed on rural exception sites will remain so in perpetuity. On shared ownership properties the share that can be purchased is capped at 80% (or the Housing Association must undertake to buy back the property if a tenant who has increased their ownership to 100% wants to sell). These measure ensure that the affordable housing is secured for future generations. The government is piloting a voluntary Right To Buy for housing association properties. However, as the guidance currently stands, Housing Associations will have the option of excluding their rural stock due to the lack of affordable homes in rural communities.

How to gain planning approval for residential development in the Countryside

Gaining approval for residential development in the countryside can be a complex process due to various planning regulations and policies aimed at preserving the rural character and environment. While specific requirements and procedures can vary between different countries and regions, here are some general steps that may be involved in gaining approval for residential development in the countryside:

  1. Research and Consultation: Conduct thorough research on the local planning policies and regulations that apply to the specific countryside area where you intend to develop. Engage in early consultation with the local planning authority to understand their requirements and seek their guidance.

  2. Identify Suitable Sites: Identify potential sites for development that are in line with the local planning policies. Consider factors such as accessibility, infrastructure availability, environmental impacts, and compatibility with the surrounding area.

  3. Develop a Proposal: Prepare a comprehensive development proposal that includes details such as the site layout, housing design, landscaping plans, and sustainability measures. Consider incorporating elements that align with the rural character and minimize the impact on the environment.

  4. Planning Application Submission: Submit a planning application to the local planning authority. The application should include all the necessary documents, such as site plans, design drawings, environmental assessments, and any required reports or studies.

  5. Public Consultation: In many cases, a period of public consultation will follow the submission of the planning application. This allows the local community and stakeholders to review the proposal and provide feedback. It is important to address any concerns raised during this process.

  6. Planning Committee Review: The planning application will be reviewed by the local planning committee or planning officer. They will consider factors such as compliance with planning policies, environmental impact, community feedback, and the need for affordable housing.

  7. Decision and Approval: The planning authority will make a decision on the application, which may result in approval, conditional approval, or rejection. If approved, any conditions must be met before development can proceed.

  8. Appeal Process: If the application is rejected, there is usually an opportunity to appeal the decision to an independent planning inspector or appeals board. This involves presenting a case explaining why the decision should be reconsidered.

 

It is crucial to note that the specific requirements and processes can vary significantly based on local planning policies, national regulations, and the unique circumstances of each development proposal. Engaging with experienced planning consultants or professionals who are familiar with the local planning system can greatly assist in navigating the approval process.

Examples of Residential Development in the Countryside

What will be shown in the next two examples are additional ways to gain planning approval for residential units in rural areas.  The first will be limited infiling in a village setting in terms of a site in Prees Heath, Whitchurch, and the second an example fo a replacemt dwelling in the open countryside just outside of Montford Bridge in Shropshire.

Case Study: 23/00863/OUT | Outline application of the erection of a single storey residential unit to include access | Navarac Golf House Lane Prees Heath Whitchurch Shropshire SY13 3JU

This is an outline application and relates to the erection of a single storey dwelling within the side garden of Navarac, Golf House Lane in Prees Heath. The application includes the access with all other matters reserved for later approval.
 

The site is located in the settlement of Prees Heath at the junction of the A41 and A49 approximately 2.5km south of Whitchurch. The site covers an area of 0.93 hectares and comprises of a grassed side garden to an existing bungalow. The plot extends from the edge of Golf House Lane which runs along the western boundary to the rear garden boundary which backs onto SB Auto Services. Bungalows are located to the north and south and on the opposite side of the lane.

Policy S18.2 (ii) of the SAMDev Plan indicates Whitchurch Rural & Ightfield and Calverhall as an allocated Community Cluster. Residential development will be delivered through the development of allocated sites in Tilstock, Ash Parva and Prees Heath, together with development of infilling, groups of houses and
conversions on suitable sites within the development boundaries identified on the Policies Map or on well related sites to Prees Heath. It is envisaged that the Community Cluster will provide around a further 100 dwellings up to 2026. The distribution of housing identified in Policy S18.2 (ii) recognises the role each
settlement already plays within the Cluster, their existing services and facilities and opportunities to deliver sustainable development.


Prees Heath has only one allocated site (PH004 - Former Cherry Tree Hotel and adjoining land) and will provide 5 dwellings. At present no formal application has been approved for development on this site. Prees Heath does not have a formal development boundary, although officers consider that the proposed application site is located within the main built up area of Prees Heath. The site forms a parcel of land which is enclosed by residential properties, commercial development and vehicular access lane and does not have a physical
connection to open countryside or agricultural land. The proposed site clearly relates to the existing built form of Prees Heath and will not result in an isolated form of development and would be sympathetic to the character of the settlement and its surrounding environment.


Prees Heath benefits from a good level of service provision given its strategic location at the junction of the A49 and A41 on the main trunk road network. As such the settlement includes the following services Prees Heath Fish and Chip Restaurant; Select and Save convenience store; a petrol filling station with convenience provision; Raven and Midway Truck stop Cafés; truck parking areas; Raven Public House and Hotel; and the Aston Barclay car auction. The bus route 511 also passes through the village with stops on Tilstock Lane,
providing regular links to Tilstock, Whitchurch and Shrewsbury. Officers consider that the principle for residential can be supported.

The proposed site covers just over 0.93 hectares and has a frontage of approximately 40 metres which comprises of a native boundary hedgerow. The of other properties. Access to and from the application site is reasonably anticipated to be from its junction with the adopted highway to the north. This junction enables simultaneous movement of cars and with a measure of visibility considered to be adequate for the prevailing highway conditions. On balance therefore from the county road perspective it is considered the proposal is
unlikely to lead to conditions detrimental to highway safety to sustain an objection. The existing access serving Navarac will be used to provide a joint access for the existing and proposed bungalow. A large turning and parking area will be provided within the front garden to serve both the existing and proposed
dwelling which is considered acceptable and will not impact on the native roadside hedgerow.

The principle for residential development is acceptable, whilst the proposed indicative layout would allow a dwelling to respect neighbouring properties and will not result in any detrimental impact from either overlooking, cause any overbearing impact or loss of light. The existing boundary trees and hedging will
be retained, whilst the proposed development will not impact on any protected species. The existing access will provide adequate visibility in both directions for emerging vehicles, whilst a suitable level of off street car parking and manoeuvring space could be provided.

CASE STUDY: 20/04936/FUL | Erection of one replacement dwelling following demolition of existing | Rose Cottage Holyhead Road Montford Shrewsbury SY4 1AU.

The application seeks permission for the erection of a replacement dwelling at the
site of Rose Cottage, Holyhead Rd, Montford. Bridge. The application site is located within the open countryside to the south east of Great Ness. The site is accessed off the A5 trunk road to the south. The site is
otherwise bound by agricultural land with neighbouring dwellings beyond to the north and north east.

 

The existing dwelling on site is a two storey dwelling with outbuildings to the north and west. The dwelling was a one bedroom dwelling and has an internal floor area of approximately 65m2. The current dwelling is sited to the east of the plot and is orientated to face the highway to the south. The original plans submitted alongside the application demonstrated a replacement the bedroom which an attached garage resulting in a dwelling which was considerably larger than that existing. It was also considered that the design and
materials proposed for the dwelling would not represent that of the surrounding area and is considered to be out of keeping. Amended plans have since been submitted to overcome the concerns regarding scale and design. The proposed dwelling, which has an internal floor area of approximately 138m2 across two floors will be sited further within the site to the north west of the existing dwelling. Re-locating the replacement dwelling is not usually looked upon favourably, however the applicants would like to re-locate the property away from the A5 due to the noise levels emitting from the adjacent highway. The proposed dwelling will still be orientated to face the highway to the south.


The amended plans demonstrate a dwelling of a similar design to surrounding dwellings and utilising similar materials. Following comments from the Conservation Officer a chimney breast has been added to the design to further assimilate the dwelling into the surrounding area. On balance it is considered that the siting, scale and design of the proposed replacement dwelling is acceptable.

The proposal seeks to use brick to match that found within the vicinity and roof tiles. The materials identified are found locally within neighbouring properties, as such it is not considered that the proposal will appear out of context. The brick should match that found within the surrounding areas and officers would seek samples of the proposed materials should the application be granted. The dwelling will be sited within the plot and set back from the road frontage by approximately 25m, resultantly the visual prominence of the scheme is reduced. The dwelling will be well sited behind mature trees and hedgerows, blending into the site and surroundings well. Additionally the retention of a large front garden will enable landscaping to be added to this elevation further assisting in reducing the visual prominence of the scheme over time. It is noted that there is close boarded timber fencing which is currently visually prominent from the highways. A condition will be attached to any grant of consent to ensure that a suitable boundary treatment is erected prior to the occupation of the dwelling to help reduce the visual prominence of the site. While the scheme is not identical to neighbouring properties it is not considered that the overall profile or design will be an over prominent visual addition. The scheme is in character with the surrounding development and is therefore
acceptable. The applicants seeks to retain the generous front garden and modest rear garden at the premises and no landscaping removal is proposed.Timber close boarded fencing has been erected around the site, however a condition will be attached to any grant of consent to ensure the timber fencing.

Due to the age of Rose Cottage which is proposed to be demolished SC Conservation were consulted on the proposed development. The Conservation Officer has referred to sequential historic mapping and has
noted that there is a modest building indicated in the position of Rose Cottage on the First Edition OS map (surveyed 1881 and published 1884) and on the subsequent Second Edition OS map (revised 1900 and published 1902). These historic maps also show several very modest outbuildings to the rear sited along
the property line, one of which may be still extant when looking at our current mapping. The Conservation Officer has stated that the original dwelling may have at least 19th Century or earlier origins, the cottage may represent a non-designated heritage asset where paragraph 197 of the NPPF and the relevant sections of local
policy MD13 may apply. The Conservation Officer has stated that there is currently insufficient information
has been submitted in support of the application, although it was made clear under The Pre-Planning Application Enquiry that an extensive description of the existing dwelling and other historic buildings on the site would be required as part of a full planning application. The officer also advised that a structural survey should be Submitted as part of the application to demonstrate that the building could not be retained in whole or in part as part of a redevelopment scheme for this site should also be supplied. Photographs and a document demonstrating the buildings on site has since been submitted in support of the application and the SC Conservation Officer has been consulted on the additional information. The Conservation Officer noted from the additional information submitted that this modest building has been poorly altered and modified such that historic fabric and features have been lost over time and the building is not considered to really meet the criteria of a non-designated heritage asset in this case. On this basis we will not raise an objection on heritage grounds to the removal of this building or in principle its replacement. Amended plans were also submitted demonstrating a reduction in the scale of the proposed development, the SC Conservation Officer raised no objection to the new design, however neighbouring properties in the area feature pairs of chimneys
which the officer would contend would add to the visual interest of the proposed dwelling and tie it in to the local vernacular building forms. Amended plans have since been submitted which incorporate a chimney within the new design. The Conservation Officer requested a number of conditions to be attached to any grant of permission to agree external materials, windows and door details, landscaping, driveway surface and boundary treatment details. In light of the above it is therefore considered that the proposed development is in accordance with relevant planning policies.


As the building would result in demolition of a building SC Ecology were consulted in order to assess the potential impact upon protected species. The SC Ecologist requested that additional information would be required to be submitted in relation to bats and as a minimum a phase 1 preliminary roost
assessment should be submitted. A Preliminary Roos Assessment undertaken by Greenscape Environmental (March 2021) was submitted in support of the application. As such the SC Ecologist was re-consulted to assess the additional information. The SC Ecologist noted that the ecology survey carried out by Greenscape
Ecology (March 2021) found no signs of bats in the buildings which are to be removed and no further surveys were recommended. In the event a bat is found during works, works must stop and NE or a licensed ecologist must be contacted for advice on how to proceed. In light of the above the SC Ecologist recommended that a number of conditions and informative notes are attached to any grant of permission to ensure the protection of wildlife and to provide ecological enhancements. It is therefore considered subject tot he conditions and informative notes that the development complies with relevant planning policies.

 

As the application site is accessed off a trunk road Highways England have been consulted as part of this application. Highways England raised objection to the proposed development in relation to lack of information regarding likely traffic generation as well as the lack of detail regarding the access. Some further access details were submitted as well as a brief road safety audit ans Highways England were re-consulted based on this additional information. Highways England maintained their objection in relation to the proposed development.
An online meeting was then held between the officer, agent and Highways England in order to determine how to proceed with the application. As the proposed development would not see an increase in vehicular movements and the use would not change it was considered that a case for exemption from RSA and WCHAR.
Following the submission of the case for exemption from RSA and WCHAR, Highways England were re-consulted and stated that in accordance with GG 142 for the WCHAR The Design Team Leader should submit an Exemption file note. Following the Exemption File Note Highways England have confirmed that they do not raise an objection to the proposed development. In light of the above it is therefore considered that the proposed development is in accordance with relevant planning policies.


In light of the above and subject to the recommended conditions and informative notes it is considered that the proposed development complies with relevant planning policies and therefore approval is recommended.

 

Case Study: Planning Application P/2022/0792 - Dilys o/Valid From 31/08/2022 Willmore, The Chequer, Bronington, Wrexham, SY13 2JQ - Demolition of existing dwelling and erection of replacement dwelling.

Introduction

 

The site comprises a detached pre-fab bungalow set amongst cleared bare ground showing some signs of regrowth. There are fences on the site boundaries, and a caravan to the north. There is a detached garage in the southwestern corner of the site.

 

Planning Policy in Wales and Wrexham concernig housing in the Countryside

 

Planning policy in Wales is set by the Welsh Government. The primary planning document for Wales is the Planning Policy Wales (PPW), which sets out the land use planning policies of the Welsh Government. The policy is supplemented by Technical Advice Notes (TANs), which provide detailed guidance on specific planning matters. When it comes to new housing in the countryside in Wales, the general principle is to restrict new isolated homes in the countryside unless they meet certain special criteria. Here's an outline of the policy, though remember it's essential to consult the latest versions of PPW and TANs as these documents can be updated:

  1. Sustainability Principle: One of the central tenets of the Planning Policy Wales is sustainability. Any new development, including housing in the countryside, should promote and reinforce the well-being and sustainability of communities.

  2. New Housing in Open Countryside: New housing in the open countryside, away from existing settlements, is often resisted unless it's genuinely necessary for agricultural or forestry workers. Such dwellings should be essential for a full-time worker in that sector and should be sited close to existing farm buildings or other dwellings.

  3. Replacement Dwellings: The replacement of an existing dwelling (which is structurally unsound or not worth renovating) might be acceptable if the new dwelling isn’t significantly larger than the one it replaces, and it's in a similar position.

  4. Conversion of Existing Buildings: The conversion of existing rural buildings to residential use can be supported, especially if it brings back into use a heritage building that might otherwise deteriorate. These conversions should respect the character of the original building and its setting.

  5. Affordable Housing for Local Needs: In some circumstances, new homes might be allowed in the countryside if they meet a proven local need for affordable housing. Such housing would typically be subject to conditions or obligations to ensure they remain affordable and available to meet local needs in perpetuity.

  6. Design and Landscape Considerations: Any housing approved in the countryside should be of a design and scale that respects its landscape setting. This means using local materials, adhering to local architectural styles, and taking account of topography and key views.

 

Remember, these are broad principles, and specific circumstances, local development plans, and other detailed policies can influence decisions. If you're considering a development in the Welsh countryside, it's essential to consult local planning authorities and potentially seek professional planning advice to understand the specifics and nuances of your situation. Always refer to the most recent versions of the Planning Policy Wales and relevant TANs.

At the time of the applicatio  the Adopted Local Plan for Wrexham has the followimg Policy concernig housing in the Countryside:

Policy H5 Outside defined settlement limits new dwellings will only be permitted where:a) proposals accord with Policies H3, H4, and H8; or
b) proposals comprise infilling subject to Policy GDP1; or
c) an essential need to house a full time agricultural or forestry key worker can be established and
i) the long term financial viability and functional management of the enterprise is proven; and
ii) the person, due to the nature of the work, has to live on the site rather than in a nearby settlement; and
iii) there are no suitable buildings nearby which could be converted into a dwelling; and
iv) the new dwelling is sited adjacent to an existing building, can be landscaped, and is of a form, bulk, design and materials which reflect the locality's rural character. Any permission will be conditioned to limit residential occupancy to essential workers.

This policy is designed to prevent new housing in the form of isolated dwellings, the consolidation of sporadic groups, or the extension of ribbon development in the countryside as it would result in a loss of visual quality and landscape character and adversely affect agriculture. New housing is defined here as permanent dwelling houses, caravans, mobile homes, or other prefabricated or temporary structures which could be used for residential purposes. Scattered development is also generally more expensive to service than that in, or adjacent to, existing settlements.

However, infilling defined as the development of no more than two dwellings in a small gap within a well developed built frontage, may be acceptable where no environmental damage occurs. This definition excludes sites which extend into the countryside beyond the limits of neighbouring curtilages. Infill housing development should reflect the line of older adjacent property. The opportunities for such development in the countryside are very limited.
 

In exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate to allow the erection of a dwelling in the countryside for those, who, by virtue of their particular job requirements need to be available on a full-time basis at their place of work and cannot live in a nearby settlement or building. (i.e. agricultural or forestry key workers). In these cases an essential housing need in connection with the management of the enterprise and the enterprise's long term economic viability must be satisfactorily established; in the case of the agricultural workers' dwellings this will require a specialist evaluation of the need.

Ecological Issues

 

The survey has focussed on the potential habitats or protected species to be damaged or destroyed as part of this development. The only potential habitat of value is the low value bat roost potential of the roof. A precautionary activity survey confirmed that no bats are roosting in the building, matching the lack of evidence seen. It is recommended that the roosting potential of the site is enhanced by including a dedicated bat roost box in the new building. Demolition work will be done under a precautionary method statement to further negate any risk to individual bats that may begin to use.
 

ere are ponds within 250m, but are either separated by a busy road or on private land. The land to be developed is frequently disturbed and of low value for amphibians. No further consideration is required.
There is opportunity to enhance the site for nesting birds by including artificial nest boxes around site post-development. The development can proceed without the loss of habitat of significant value, and without the loss of the favourable conservation status of any protected species. As there is no evidence of protected species within and around the development site, there is no requirement to address the three tests under Regulation 55 of The Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.
The method statement provided in section 6.3.2 of this report will be followed. Other than those listed above, there are no ecological constraints to the developmen
t as currently proposed.

Planning Assessment and Approval

The planning application was ddeemed to be acceptbale in principle due to it being a recplacement dwelling in a ribbon of existing development.  The proposal would not affect reisndetial amenity, highway safety or the character fo the area and therefore permission was granted.

Post Approval Assistance

Post planning apporval En-Plan have asisted with the discharge fo planning conditons and Building Regulations technical gudiance of rteh build. Once of the areas we provided asistahjce was the formaulation fo a Precautionary Method Stament that cobverd the construction phase and provided detail on haow ot precent any harm to Great Crested Newts.


In order to limit the potential for committing an offence with respect to great crested newts, and to ensure the protection of common amphibians and reptiles, the following advice is given:


The basic protection afforded to great crested newts is listed below:
It is illegal to:
deliberately kill, injure or capture (or take) great crested newts
deliberately disturb great crested newts
deliberately take or destroy the eggs of great crested newts
recklessly disturb great crested newts while it is occupying a structure of place which is uses for shelter or protection or obstruct access to their places of shelter or protection;
damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of great crested newts;
possess or transport a great crested newt or any part of a great crested
newt, unless acquired legally;
sell (or offer for sale) or exchange great crested newts or parts of great crested newts.

 

Common reptile species (slow worm, grass snake, adder, common lizard) are protected against killing, injuring and sale under UK legislation. Other amphibians – common frog, common toad, smooth newt and palmate newt, are not offered the same legal protection but it is good practice to try to avoid harm to these species. Common toad is listed on Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 is a special of principle importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity and thus must be regarded by the planning authority in exercising any of its functions.
 

Need for this Precautionary Method Statement


Based on the findings from the daytime Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey and Great Crested Newt (GCN) Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) (Trust Ecology, 2016) it was concluded that GCN are present in surrounding habitats just over 100m from the site and are likely to be breeding in the ponds identified in the Ecological
Appraisal report as being of average suitability or higher (Ponds 5-11 and associated ditch) over 100m from the proposed development area. Although their presence within the short grazed improved grassland that makes up the site is unlikely, there is a low risk of GCN in close proximity to working areas as the site is bordered by hedgerows, which are to be unaffected by the works. Individuals of common amphibian species, including common toad and smooth If a newt is found:


- If it is suspected that a Great Crested Newt has been found, work must be suspended and the advice of a suitably licensed GCN ecologist sought. Contact details are supplied at the end of this Precautionary
Method Statement. A Natural England development license may be required before works can continue. This may entail considerable delays and costs.
- Should the project over run significantly (by more than 1-2 years) then further advice must be sought to determine whether additional survey or licensing are required before work continues.
- At no point should any worker handle a Great Crested Newt or suspected Great Crested Newt. Unlicensed handling is illegal and untrained handling may cause the newt unnecessary stress and injury.
- If, using the supplied hand out at the end of this document, the site operatives can CONFIDENTLY (100% certainty) identify that the newt found is NOT a Great Crested Newt, the newt can be carefully moved out of the area of works and placed in nearby habitat similar to that in which it was found. A newt found on land should not be placed into a pond or other water body.

 

If reptiles or amphibians (other than GCN) are found 


- If any amphibians (other than Great Crested Newt) or reptiles are found within the working area they should be removed to an area outside of the working zone, preferably in dense vegetation, a rubble pile, or under lying wood (taking care not to squash them).
- Amphibians should be picked up by placing the fingers under the body and lifting, not by grasping any part of them. They can be held still by placing a thumb gently on top of them, if necessary.
- Handling should be kept to a minimum and latex gloves should be avoided. Vinyl, Nitrile and other non-latex gloves are ok and should be used where possible.
- If the amphibians/reptiles found are hibernating then they should be collected up and placed in a covered box or bucket while a suitable shelter / hibernaculum is prepared for them under the advice of an ecologist.

 

Hand search and destructive searches
The following methodology will be followed immediately prior to any groundworks/ excavations:


- All potential refuges shall be searched and topsoil stripped within the footprints of the chalets during the active season for amphibians (mid-March - Mid October, weather dependant). The hand search will be carried out by the GCN-licenced ecologist and the topsoil strip by careful use of an excavator and will be undertaken under the supervision of a licenced ecologist.
- Only when the licensed ecologist is completely satisfied that there remains no risk to amphibians may plant/machine continue to excavate and level the chalet pad areas. dentifying great crested newts (Information taken from the Great


The attached plans show a newt proof fence to the front of the property and a fenced storage area for materials to reduce the risk of any harm to great crested newts further. {Please refer to figure A2 on page A01.

 

Further Information

 

If you would like to find out more about how our Planning Consultancy and Architectural Design Services can work in perfect sync to achieve a successful outcome in the planning system please CONTACT US and we will be only too happy to talk through any questions or development proposals you may have.

READ MORE NEWS

Photograph of the recently apporved New Faith Church in Fakenham, Norfolk.

March 2020

Planning Application and Building Regulations Approval received for new Place of Worship.

En-Plan: Planning & Architecture have secured this change of use for a new place or worship via Planning Consent from North Norfolk Council and subsequent Full Plans Building Regulations approval for the revised layout.

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Meadow Farm Wroxeter Shropshire.

October 2023

New extension receives approval in Wroxeter, Shropshire.

Utilising thepermitted development rights that householders have En-Plan were able to gain approval for a new side extension thta adds a new kitchen extension to a detached gfarm house in the Shropshire Countryside..

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New Boutique Hotel Apporved in Balloch, Scotland.

March 2020

New Boutique Hotel Planning Application 
approved in Balloch, Scotland.

En-Plan: Planning & Architecture have obtained retrospective planning approval for a boutique hotel that was the subject of a Planning Enforcement case. En-Plan have been bought in and achieved the consent to allow the ongoing use of this business.

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November 2022

Property Development completed in Chester city centre.

Building Regulations approval has been granted and the project completed for a new holiday let unit in Chester city centre.  The development included a loft conversion at the property to add a new bedroom.

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Apporvd holiday Let in Minsterley, Shropshire.

Februrary 2020

Holiday Let Planning Application receives approval in Minsterley, Shropshire.

Utilising the existing garage planning approval has been granted to change its use to a new holiday let in the heart of the Shropshire Countryside. The project will now progresses to the building regs stage. To ensure correct conversion techniques and fire safety.

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Februrary 2020

Extension and new annex receives approval in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Planning approval has been granted by Shropshire County Council for a new two-storey side extension and the conversion of an existing outbuilding to a resindetial annex at a smallholding in Oswestry, Shropshire.

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Shropshire Office

Missenden

Back Lane

Bomere Heath

Shropshire

SY4 3PH

Norfolk Office

34 Queen Elizabeth Avenue

Kings Lynn

Norfolk

PE30 4BX