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Planing Appications Submitted for a New Residential Unit and a New Detached Garage in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. En-Plan: Planning Consultants for Brignorth, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.


Upper Bromdon Farm, Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

Planning Applications for New Residential Unit and a New Garage to Serve the Existing Unit.

En-Plan: Planning & Architecture are now acting as the Planning & Architectural Consultants for the  owners of Upper Bromdon Farm to gain planning approval for new residential development in place of an existing domestic storage building on site, and the creation of a new detached double garage with home office above to augment the accommodation provided by the main unit.  The applications have been submitted for both elements and En-Plan are liaising with Shropshire County Council to ensure the applications progress in good time.

Policy SP9 Managing Development in Community Clusters supports modest levels of development in rural settlements. Part 2c of the Policy allows, "infill sites of 0.1ha or less, which are clearly within and well related to the built form of the settlement, have permanent and substantial buildings on at least two sides and are for up to a maximum of 3 dwellings." This policy will mean that a village plot of 0.12ha would be refused. Similarly, a well-designed rural scheme of 3 dwellings at a density of 20 dwellings per hectare on 0.15 hectares would be refused.

The threshold of 0.1ha appears to represent a density of 30 dwellings per hectare, ignoring typical densities of 12-18 dwellings per hectare in Community Clusters. It is therefore inconsistent with Policy SP1 (The Shropshire Test) which requires at section 1e that development, "…enhances the area's character and historic environment" and inconsistent with Policy SP5: High-Quality Design, which requires, "Development must maintain and enhance the character, appearance and historic interests of settlements...."
The policy is not effective – the policy will not help deliver sustainable development in Shropshire. Community Cluster settlements are generally seeking low density housing for local people, with a high proportion of self-build. As the Council's statistics demonstrate, Community Clusters have been the most common location for self-build housing since the Core Strategy was adopted in 2011. Policy DP2 (Self-Build and Custom-Build Housing) supports self-build, continuing the support given to this type of housing in the Shropshire Core Strategy. However wording of policy SP9 makes these aspirations ineffective in Community Clusters because its restriction on size encourages higher density speculative build as this is the type of development that delivers highest returns within the restrictions of the current policy wording. This reduces the effectiveness of the policy in delivering sustainable rural development.

In Shropshire's rural areas it is more common to have home-based businesses. This is supported by policy SP12 Shropshire Economic Growth Strategy. However live/work units often require plots larger than 0.1ha in size, for example contractors with agricultural equipment and vehicles stored at their home address. Under policy SP9 plots larger than 0.1ha would be refused, undermining the plan's effectiveness.

The policy is not consistent with national policy – it clashes with paragraph 11a and paragraph 127 in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The fixed limit on site size creates a lack of flexibility that runs counter to paragraph 11a of the National Planning Policy Framework which requires that, "plans should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area, and be sufficiently flexible to adapt to rapid change”.
Developers will respond to the 0.1ha limit by altering site boundaries to fit, which will sometimes lead to unnatural boundaries that do not respond to their context, simply to create site sizes below the policy maximum. Such artifical sites will clash with paragraph 127 of the Framework which requires good design that is, "sympathetic to local character and history, including the surrounding built environment and landscape setting" and which will, "establish or maintain a strong sense of place."
To avoid the creation of artificial shaped plots, it is preferable to provide some flexibility, for example using the term "about" 0.2 hectares, or to set a size that is at the maximum end of the range of sizes that would be acceptable.

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