National Policy Guidance
7.1 Government advice on Green Belts is contained in PPG2 “Green Belts” (Revised January 1995). It sets out the purposes and objectives of the Green Belt and advises on the definition of Green Belt boundaries, including taking account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development. Particular guidance is given on the categories of appropriate development, including the re-use of rural buildings, and the future of major existing developed sites.
7.2 The government’s policy guidance for the countryside in general is set out in PPS7 “Sustainable Development in Rural Areas” (August 2004). As the title indicates, the guiding principle in the countryside is the achievement of sustainable development i.e. the integration of development necessary to sustain economic and social activity in rural communities with the protection of the countryside for the sake of its beauty, the diversity of its landscape and historic character, the wealth of its natural resources and its ecological, agricultural, recreational and archaeological value.
Replacement Structure Plan
7.3 RSP Policies C1 and C2 restate the guidance set out in PPG2 regarding the purposes of the MGB and the presumption against inappropriate development other than in very special circumstances. In South Essex, which includes Brentwood in the County Strategy, the RSP regards the main strategic functions of the MGB as checking the outward spread of London, protecting strategic gaps of open land to prevent the coalescence of urban areas, protecting wider areas of countryside from urban encroachment, preserving the special character and setting of historic towns such as Brentwood, and encouraging urban regeneration.
7.4 RSP Policy C3 advises that boundaries around town and villages will be defined by reference to the foreseen long term expansion of their built up areas acceptable in the context of the stated purposes of the Green Belt and the provisions of the RSP, and Policy C4 refers to a review of those inner Green Belt boundaries having regard to the principles set out in Policy C3.
7.5 Policies in the RSP dealing with the rural economy provide for the development of rural settlements (RE1), the re-use of rural buildings (RE2) and proposals for Major Developed Sites in the countryside (RE3).
Essex Rural Strategy
7.6 Essex County Council, in partnership with the district authorities and other organisations, has produced a Rural Strategy for Essex, which examines the problems and issues of rural areas in more detail. The overall aim of the strategy is to work towards “an environmentally and economically sustainable countryside which is both beautiful, environmentally healthy, diverse, accessible and thriving”. An annual action plan has been produced, which is to be updated as a result of continuous review.
Brentwood Community Plan
7.7 The Community Plan’s strategic objectives that are relevant to the Replacement Local Plan’s Green Belt Policies are set out under the heading “Sustainable Development and the Local Environment” and includes:
“ To seek to make provision for appropriate housing, employment and other development to meet the needs of the Borough, whilst conserving and maximising resources and enhancing the character and environmental quality of the Borough for the benefit of current and future generations, by:
- Promoting the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources both inside and outside the Council’s sphere of operation
- Promoting the conservation and enhancement of the natural and built environment”
THE AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE PLAN’S GREEN BELT AND COUNTRYSIDE POLICIES
To maintain the extent, character and openness of the Borough’s countryside
- To conserve and enhance the character, appearance and ecological value of the countryside
- To resist inappropriate development or that giving rise to unacceptable increases in activity
- To maximise public access to and enjoyment of the countryside for passive and active recreation, compatible with the conservation of its character, appearance and ecological value
- To avoid the loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land
- To promote opportunities for the development and enhancement of sustainable rural communities and a sustainable rural economy
7.8 The whole of the Borough lies within the Metropolitan Green Belt (MGB) and, for the most part, has done so since the outer boundary was first defined in the County of Essex Development Plan, approved in 1957. The Green Belt was extended to cover the northern part of the Borough in the subsequent Review, approved in 1976.
7.9 The sensitive wedge of open countryside in which Brentwood is situated is a good example of the Green Belt's success in halting the outward spread of London's built-up area. Brentwood is subject to considerable pressure for new development being the first urban settlement encountered along the main lines of communication running north eastwards from London and being adjacent to the M25.
7.10 Brentwood's countryside is predominantly in agricultural use, although in common with rural areas elsewhere, agriculture is undergoing significant changes and there is pressure for diversification of the rural economy and the need for alternative employment opportunities to cater for the needs of the smaller village settlements and the dispersed residential development. There are, however, scattered areas of commercial development, which pre-date the designation of the Green Belt.
7.11 Opportunities for both informal and formal recreation are an important feature of the Borough’s countryside, with two sizeable country parks, many open recreational areas, and an extensive network of public rights of way.
7.12 The structure of the urban area of Brentwood is characterised by a number of significant wedges of open land, included within the Green Belt, which dissect the built up area, and in the case of Shenfield Common and the Merrymeade areas, extend right into the heart of the town. These areas, including the open space associated with the former Warley and St. Faiths Hospitals, provide a strategic function, giving easy access from large areas of the town to both informal and formal recreation areas and providing corridors of access to the wider countryside and the network of public rights of way. These “green wedges” contain a number of sites of ecological value, which should be protected, and also act as wildlife corridors. Within these areas the Council has and will continue to seek to increase the provision of public open space and other opportunities for enhancing informal recreation and public accessibility.
7.13 Large parts of the Borough's countryside are considered to be areas of special landscape value and important in terms of nature conversation.
THE EXTENT OF THE GREEN BELT
Inner Green Belt Boundary Review
7.14 The inner Green Belt boundary around the town of Brentwood was first defined on the Town Map of the 1957 County Development Plan. The 1976 Approved Review of the County Development Plan (ARDP) significantly amended that boundary and also defined boundaries around the other main settlements
7.15 The adopted 1995 Brentwood Local Plan defined first time boundaries around the smaller built up areas of Blackmore, Hook End, Stondon Massey and Mountnessing. At the same time, the ARDP boundary was reviewed in detail to ensure consistency and logic, and minor amendments were made to reflect planning consents and to comply with specific criteria.
7.16 PPG2 states that detailed Green Belt boundaries defined in adopted local plans or earlier approved development plans should be altered only exceptionally. It further states that where existing local plans are being revised and updated, existing Green Belt boundaries should not be changed, unless alterations to the structure plan or other exceptional circumstances exist, which necessitate such revision.
7.17 In undertaking a full review of the adopted Local Plan, and in compliance with the RSP (see paragraph 7.4 above), the inner Green Belt boundaries have again been reviewed. As a consequence of the conclusions of the “Urban Capacity Study” referred to Paragraphs 3.8 to 3.10 of the Housing Chapter, there is no requirement to undertake any significant amendments to the Green Belt boundary to provide for the development provisions of the Replacement Structure Plan up to 2011. The housing provision figure of 1450 new dwellings can be comfortably accommodated within the existing urban areas identified in the earlier adopted plan.
7.18 PPG2 also states that local planning authorities should satisfy themselves that Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered at the end of the plan period, and that they will endure in the longer term. This will in some cases mean safeguarding land between the urban area and the Green Belt, which may be required to meet longer-term development needs. The PPG advises that the issues involved and any such requirement should first be identified in the structure plan. The Replacement Structure Plan makes no such statement. At present, there is no distribution of development requirements by District/Borough for the post 2011 period on which to base any assessment of the need or otherwise for “safeguarded land”. This is a matter to be considered in an early review of the RSP. However, the Borough-wide Urban Capacity Study does identify additional capacity to respond to needs beyond 2011. It is considered, therefore, that the previously defined Green Belt boundaries have and will continue to provide long term boundaries beyond the current plan period to 2011. In the light of the above arguments it is not proposed as part of this plan review to identify “safeguarded land” to provide for any post 2011 development requirements.
7.19 In addition to this “strategic” assessment of the Borough’s Green Belt boundaries a more detailed review has again been undertaken to ensure that the alignment of the boundaries is logical, that they conform to the Council’s criteria for detailed definition, and take account of any changes in circumstances, for example the grant of planning permission, since their last review. As a consequence, a number of amendments have been to the boundaries, generally of a minor nature. However, more significant amendments have been made to reflect the development of the former Warley and St. Faiths Hospital sites.
DEVELOPMENT IN THE GREEN BELT
7.20 In line with the guidance set out in PPG2 and as reiterated in RSP Policy C2, inappropriate development within the Green Belt will only be allowed in very special circumstances (Policy GB1). Policy GB2 is directed at development that is appropriate in the Green Belt and provides the basis against which such appropriate development will be considered. The criteria in Policy GB2 would also apply in cases of inappropriate development where it was considered that very special circumstances existed. The policy is not to be read as seeking to create exceptions to the general Green Belt restraint policy. Policy GB2 should be read in conjunction with Policy GB1 and other policies in this Plan.
WITHIN THE GREEN BELT, AS DEFINED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP, PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GIVEN, EXCEPT IN VERY SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES, FOR CHANGES OF USE OF LAND OR THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW BUILDINGS OR EXTENSION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS, FOR PURPOSES OTHER THAN THOSE APPROPRIATE TO A GREEN BELT, OR FOR THE RE-USE OF EXISTING BUILDINGS THAT DO NOT COMPLY WITH THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICIES GB15 AND GB16.
ALL PROPOSALS WILL ADDITIONALLY, WHERE THEY APPLY, BE JUDGED AGAINST THE OTHER POLICIES IN THIS PLAN.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
WHEN CONSIDERING PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE GREEN BELT, THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL NEED TO BE SATISFIED THAT THEY DO NOT CONFLICT WITH THE PURPOSES OF INCLUDING LAND IN THE GREEN BELT AND DO NOT HARM THE OPENNESS OF THE GREEN BELT. THE PRECEDENT CREATED BY ALLOWING EVEN AN INDIVIDUALLY INNOCUOUS OR WELL-MERITED PROPOSAL WHICH CUMULATIVELY WOULD UNDERMINE GREEN BELT OBJECTIVES WILL BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. ACCOUNT WILL ALSO BE TAKEN OF THE FOLLOWING:
i) THE EFFECT OF PROPOSALS ON PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY
ii) THE NEED TO PRESERVE OR ENHANCE EXISTING LANDSCAPE FEATURES
iii) ANY BUILDING MUST BE SATISFACTORILY LOCATED IN RESPECT OF THE SURROUNDING LANDSCAPE AND ANY ADJOINING BUILDINGS.
Settlements Excluded from the Green Belt
7.21 In order to achieve sustainable patterns of development and to conserve and protect the Green Belt, new residential development will be directed to those existing settlements excluded from the Green Belt. [As referred to above, the boundaries around these settlements have been defined by reference to a number of specific criteria and have been the subject of a comprehensive review as part of the preparation of the Replacement Local Plan.]
7.22 PPG3 refers to the national target that, by 2008, 60% of additional housing should be provided on previously–developed land and through the conversion of existing buildings (by definition this is generally, but not wholly, within existing urban areas). As a result of the application of the Council’s Green Belt policies, Brentwood has been achieving comparable figures of some 90% in recent years.
EXCEPT AS MAY BE ALLOWED FOR IN POLICIES H10, GB4-GB12, GB16 AND GB17 NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT WILL BE RESTRICTED TO THE FOLLOWING SETTLEMENTS EXCLUDED FROM THE GREEN BELT AS IDENTIFIED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP:
BLACKMORE, BRENTWOOD, DODDINGHURST, HERONGATE, HOOK END, INGATESTONE, INGRAVE, KELVEDON HATCH, MOUNTNESSING, STONDON MASSEY, WEST HORNDON AND WYATTS GREEN
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
Sustainable Rural Communities
7.23 Sustainable development is the cornerstone of both the Government’s rural policies and its planning policies. Sustainable development includes, amongst other things, seeking to ensure the viability of existing rural communities. This can be achieved by reversing the decline in rural services, promoting the rural economy through rural diversification and other suitable local employment opportunities, the provision of affordable housing and a mix of house types, the retention of local services and community facilities and improvements in local public transport and other sustainable forms of travel. In this way rural communities will be sustained through the achievement of an appropriate mix of age, income and occupation and the provision of necessary viable local services.
7.24 The Council will seek to encourage and promote sustainable rural communities, directly and indirectly, through the policies in this plan, its other corporate policies and plans and through its partnership with other relevant bodies and agencies.
Established Areas of Development
7.25 Within the Green Belt there are many established clusters of dwellings. There is a continuing pressure for "infill" development to take place between existing dwellings in such areas. If this pressure were acceded to, the character of the Green Belt within and around these areas would be markedly altered over time. The Council will, therefore, continue to resist strongly pressure to allow future new development in those established clusters. However, there are a very few limited and well defined areas within the Green Belt where tight knit frontage ribbon development already exists which is sufficiently urban in character to allow some relaxation of Green Belt policy. Outside these specifically defined areas residential development will only be allowed in accordance with other policies in this Section.
WITHIN THE ESTABLISHED AREAS OF FRONTAGE RIBBON DEVELOPMENT INCLUDED WITHIN THE GREEN BELT LISTED BELOW PLANNING PERMISSION FOR CHANGE OF USE TO RESIDENTIAL, NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ON GENUINE INFILL PLOTS, REPLACEMENT OF EXISTING DWELLINGS, OR EXTENSIONS TO EXISTING DWELLINGS WILL BE ALLOWED SUBJECT TO THE CRITERIA SET DOWN IN POLICY GB2 AND CP1 BEING SATISFIED. THE RELEVANT SETTLEMENTS ARE:
169-293 CHELMSFORD ROAD; 39-47, 51-109 COXTIE GREEN ROAD; 1-19 BELLHOUSE LANE; BETWEEN COPPERSFIELD AND GREENOAKS, DODDINGHURST ROAD (PARKWOOD); 1-13 (EXCLUDING 2), 21-56 (EXCLUDING 24, 26) NAGS HEAD LANE; THE THORNS/THE BRIARS, ONGAR ROAD; 54-88 BILLERICAY ROAD; 554-664 RAYLEIGH ROAD.
Extensions to Residential Properties
7.26 PPG2 states that the construction of new buildings inside a Green Belt is inappropriate unless for one of a list of appropriate purposes. One of the appropriate purposes is the limited extension or alteration of existing dwellings, provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building. It is clearly necessary to consider the effects of extensions to residential properties against the purposes of the Green Belt. Extensions to properties can lead to urbanisation, increases in population and activity in the Green Belt, and a loss of small dwellings. Policy GB5 below has been successfully implemented by the Council since 1982, and has been supported many times on appeal. It is a policy that is clearly understood, that has been consistently applied and is equitable. It has avoided previous inconsistencies and claims of "unfairness" which inevitably result when different sized extensions are allowed in what was often seen by the public as a haphazard and illogical way.
7.27 The policy defines a “limited” extension by allowing for an increase in floor space of up to 37 sq.m. over and above the original dwelling house (this limitation is also applied to conservatories). It is not intended that the policy should dictate the size of dwelling families should occupy, rather it would allow a degree of flexibility to cater for changing family needs. An extension of 37 sq.m could comprise a two-storey extension, the upper floor providing two bedrooms approximately 3m x 3m each and the ground floor providing a good size living room approximately 6m x 3m or being divided to offer dining room and kitchen or similar. This policy should cover reasonable requirements and should not need to be breached in any foreseeable circumstances. The policy is intended to apply equally to residential buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (subject to proper consideration of the effect of development upon the character and appearance of the building and its setting).
7.28 A condition will be imposed to prevent the 37 sq.m. limitation being exceeded through the use of permitted development rights.
7.29 In order to limit the impact of buildings converted to residential use under the terms of Policy GB16, extensions to dwellings formed under that policy will not be permitted.
THE EXTENSION OF DWELLINGS WITHIN THE GREEN BELT (OTHER THAN IN THOSE AREAS IDENTIFIED IN POLICY GB4) WILL BE RESTRICTED IN SIZE. THE TOTAL SIZE OF THE DWELLING AS EXTENDED (INCLUDING CONSERVATORIES) SHALL NOT EXCEED THE ORIGINAL HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE BY MORE THAN 37 SQ.M.
IN THE CASE OF EXTENSIONS TO REPLACEMENT DWELLINGS, THESE WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THE HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE OF THE REPLACEMENT DWELLING AND THE TOTAL HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE OF ANY EXTENSIONS PERMITTED TOGETHER WITH THAT APPLIED FOR WOULD NOT BE GREATER THAN 37 SQ.M. ABOVE THE ORIGINAL HABITABLE FLOOR AREA OF THE PREVIOUS DWELLING WHICH HAD BEEN REPLACED.
APPLICATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED AGAINST THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICY GB2.
WHERE APPROPRIATE A CONDITION WILL BE IMPOSED WHICH WILL PREVENT THIS HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE LIMITATION FROM BEING EXCEEDED THROUGH THE PRIOR IMPLEMENTATION OF PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS.
EXTENSION OF A DWELLING RESULTING, UNDER POLICY GB16, FROM THE CONVERSION OF A RURAL BUILDING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED
As a matter of clarification, the “original habitable floor space” relates to the floor space of the dwelling as it was first erected on the site, save for those dwellings erected before the first appointed day of the Town and Country Planning Act (i.e. 1st July 1948), in which case the original habitable floor space will be the floor space as existed on that date. For the purposes of calculating floor space, gross internal measurements are used in all cases. This means that measurements are taken from the inside of the external walls and include the area of the internal partitions, but exclude any stairwell area above the ground floor.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
7.30 The list of appropriate purposes for new buildings in the Green Belt also includes the replacement of existing dwellings, provided that that the new dwelling is not materially larger than the dwelling it replaces. A policy allowing for replacement dwellings in the Borough’s Green Belt has been successfully operated and supported on appeal since 1982. In the same way as the Council allows for the extension of residential properties in the Green Belt (see Policy GB5), the floor space of replacement dwellings may be up to 37sq.m. greater than the original habitable floor space. Subsequent further extensions to a replacement dwelling will only be allowed where this additional 37 sq.m. was not provided to the full at the time the replacement dwelling was built. It is considered that this allowance provides the opportunity to design a building that meets the aspirations for additional accommodation whilst ensuring that its overall visual mass is no greater than that of the original dwelling.
7.31 The policy also sets out detailed criteria for replacement dwellings and substantial rebuilds. These criteria are necessary to limit the amount of urbanisation that takes place in the Green Belt through increased occupancy potential and the inevitable increase in visual impact resulting from redevelopment and the use of modern building materials. In the interests of amenity, certain permitted development rights will, where appropriate, be removed by a condition attached to the permission. These include the erection of walls/fences and outbuildings. When a (probably ageing, often low-key) property is rebuilt, the investment involved is very likely to spread into the renewal of boundary treatment, the provision of garages, etc. These, in turn, would have a strongly urbanising effect if not controlled.
7.32 There are a number of buildings within the Borough that, although they may be, or may have been, in use at some stage for residential purposes, would, if allowed to consolidate through replacement and increased floor space, represent an unjustifiable increase in activity and impact within the Green Belt. The footnote at the bottom of Policy GB6 is intended to clarify the type of dwellings to which it refers.
7.33 In order to retain the integrity of the criteria applied to the re-use of rural buildings, the replacement of a dwelling formed under Policy GB16 will not be permitted
OUTSIDE THE SETTLEMENTS AND ESTABLISHED AREAS OF DEVELOPMENT LISTED ABOVE IN POLICY GB3 AND GB4, THE REPLACEMENT OR SUBSTANTIAL REBUILDING OF PERMANENTLY OCCUPIED DWELLINGS WILL ONLY BE ALLOWED SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
(i) WHERE THE EXISTING DWELLING HAS NOT BEEN PREVIOUSLY EXTENDED OR WHERE IT HAS BEEN EXTENDED BY LESS THAN 37 SQ.M. ABOVE THE ORIGINAL HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE:
THE FLOOR SPACE OF THE REPLACEMENT DWELLING WILL BE NO LARGER THAN 37 SQ.M. ABOVE THE ORIGINAL HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE, OR
(ii) WHERE THE EXISTING DWELLING HAS BEEN EXTENDED BY MORE THAN 37 SQ.M. ABOVE THE ORIGINAL HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE:
THE FLOOR SPACE OF THE REPLACEMENT DWELLING WILL BE NO LARGER THAN THE EXISTING HABITABLE FLOOR SPACE
(iii) THE VISUAL MASS OF THE REPLACEMENT DWELLING SHOULD BE NO GREATER THAN THAT OF THE EXISTING DWELLING. WHERE THE EXISTING DWELLING IS A BUNGALOW IT SHOULD BE REPLACED BY A BUNGALOW
(iv) ANY REPLACEMENT DWELLING WILL BE EXPECTED TO BE LOCATED IN THE POSITION OF THE EXISTING DWELLING EXCEPT WHERE THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY CONSIDER AN ALTERNATIVE SITING TO BE MORE APPROPRIATE IN GREEN BELT OR AMENITY TERMS
(v) APPLICATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED AGAINST THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICY GB2
WHERE APPROPRIATE, A CONDITION WILL BE IMPOSED REMOVING PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS TO EXTEND THE BUILDING, TO USE THE ROOF SPACE FOR HABITABLE PURPOSES, TO ERECT WALLS/FENCES AND TO ERECT FURTHER OUT-BUILDINGS
THE REPLACEMENT OF A DWELLING RESULTING, UNDER POLICY GB16, FROM THE CONVERSION OF A RURAL BUILDING, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
As a matter of clarification, in the case of the replacement of a dwelling erected before the first appointed day of the Town and Country Planning Act (i.e. 1st July 1948), “the original habitable floor space” relates to the floor space as it existed on that date. In the case of the replacement of a dwelling erected after 1st July 1948, the “original habitable floor space” relates to the floor space as it was first erected on the site. For the purposes of calculating floor space, gross internal measurements are used in all cases. This means that measurements are taken from the inside of the external walls and include the area of the internal partitions, but exclude any stairwell area above the ground floor.
This policy is not intended to apply to the replacement or substantial rebuilding of "mobile homes", holiday chalets, or similar temporary or insubstantial buildings; to unauthorised dwellings or unauthorised extensions erected since 1 July 1948; to buildings which, because of their construction or condition, are not capable of normally acceptable permanent occupation; to sites of previously demolished dwellings.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
Garages, Swimming Pools/Enclosures and Outbuildings
7.34 The erection of ancillary buildings within the curtilage of a dwelling, such as garages, swimming pool enclosures, sheds and other outbuildings potentially have a significant visual impact in rural areas. In many instances, these buildings may be erected as permitted development, but where planning permission is required, it is important that such structures are appropriately sited, designed and controlled. Where appropriate, a condition will be imposed preventing the use of such buildings for habitable purposes, and thus controlling the level of activity within the Green Belt.
WHERE REQUIRED, PERMISSION FOR DETACHED GARAGES, SWIMMING POOLS/ENCLOSURES AND OUTBUILDINGS WILL ONLY BE GRANTED WHERE THE PROPOSALS ARE LOCATED WITHIN THE DOMESTIC CURTILAGE. ALL APPLICATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED AGAINST POLICY GB2.
WHERE APPROPRIATE A CONDITION WILL BE IMPOSED TO PREVENT THE CONVERSION OF ANY SUCH BUILDINGS TO HABITABLE USE.
See also Appendix 2
Extensions to Gardens
7.35 In addition to extending habitable floor space of dwellings in the Green Belt, there is often a desire to enlarge gardens. The extension of domestic curtilages into the Green Belt leads to further urbanisation through construction of hardstandings, walls, sheds, etc., as well as increased general activity and change from rural to suburban character, which are contrary to the aims of the Green Belt. Garden extensions will, therefore, not be allowed in the Green Belt.
APPLICATIONS TO ALLOW EXTENSIONS OF A DOMESTIC CURTILAGE INTO THE GREEN BELT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED.
7.36 This is the most "established" of the Borough's areas of former plotland. It is an area of predominantly low-profile, single-storey, small-scale properties. However, prior to 1974 ad hoc reconstruction and extensions had taken place including the formation of some two-storey dwellings, and applications for new pitched roofs had also been frequently made in an attempt to increase the size of habitable accommodation. Together, these developments had tended to urbanise the area. In order to prevent these few previously approved developments being used as a precedent, which, if accepted, would have resulted in a full-scale change in the character of the area, a policy has been adopted to make it clear that new developments must be single-storey and low in profile. This established policy of the Council has helped to retain the more open sporadic plotland character of the area and avoided further urbanisation.
EXCEPT FOR EXISTING TWO-STOREY PROPERTIES WITHIN HUNTER'S CHASE, FOXES GROVE AND TALLY-HO DRIVE, THE DESIGN OF A REPLACEMENT DWELLING OR EXTENSION (INCLUDING RE-ROOFING) OF AN EXISTING DWELLING WILL BE RESTRICTED TO A SINGLE-STOREY WITH A LOW RIDGE HEIGHT AND LOW PITCH WHICH WOULD PHYSICALLY PRECLUDE THE FORMATION OF ROOMS IN THE ROOF. APPLICATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED AGAINST THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICY GB2 AND, AS APPROPRIATE, POLICIES GB5 AND GB6.
Subdivision of Dwellings
7.37 There continues to be a demand for small units of accommodation within the Borough. Policies contained within the Housing Section encourage the provision of small units in the urban area.
7.38 Where existing dwellings in the Green Belt are now too large for the accommodation of one family, proposals to convert these buildings into small units of accommodation will be permitted subject to other policies in the plan
WITHIN THE GREEN BELT THE SUBDIVISION OF LARGE HOUSES INTO UNITS SUITABLE FOR SMALL HOUSEHOLDS WILL BE PERMITTED SUBJECT TO POLICY GB2 AND THE CRITERIA IN POLICY H8 BEING SATISFIED, EXCEPT THAT ANY EXTENSION TO FACILITATE THE CONVERSION OR ANY SUBSEQUENT APPLICATION TO EXTEND THE NEWLY CREATED SMALL UNITS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED
DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATED WITH AGRICULTURE
Accommodation For Agricultural Workers
7.39 Given the settlement pattern in Brentwood it would normally be expected that agricultural workers live in nearby towns and villages. There may, however, be circumstances where a full-time agricultural worker requires accommodation on an agricultural holding. Green Belt policy allows for this, but in order to prevent the proliferation of new residences, strict criteria will need to be satisfied. Annex A to PPS7 “Sustainable Development in Rural Areas” (August 2004) sets out Government advice on the issues involved.
7.40 In considering any proposal, the existing stock of agricultural workers dwellings or other dwellings nearby will be taken into account. A functional test will be necessary in all cases to establish whether it is essential for the proper functioning of the enterprise for one or more workers to be readily available at most times. Continuing viability of the enterprise in the long-term will need to be established, and in this regard a business plan will be required. All proposals will need to be considered in the light of Policy GB2.
Temporary Siting of Mobile Homes
7.41 In cases where a new farm business is being established the Council will not normally grant planning permission for the erection of a permanent dwelling. In such cases, temporary consent for a mobile home may be given where the Council is satisfied that the functional test is fulfilled. It will also be necessary to establish that the stated intentions for the development of the enterprise are genuine, are reasonably likely to materialise, and that the need relates to a full-time agricultural worker, or one who is primarily employed in agriculture, and does not relate to a part-time requirement. Capital investment in the business should already have been made.
7.42 In relation to these matters, the Local Planning Authority will require from the Applicant the submission of additional information to demonstrate his/her experience, ability and intention, the proposed markets for the goods produced, together with evidence of any existing capital investment and future investment intentions. Three years is considered to be a reasonable period of time in which to assess whether or not a viable enterprise is able to be established on a site. Accordingly, the period for such temporary consents will not normally exceed 3 years.
7.43 An application for a mobile home will not be permitted where a dwelling or mobile home, previously in the control of the applicant and with the potential to serve the agricultural/horticultural enterprise, has been sold or let separately from agricultural land in the previous four years,
7.44 Mobile homes will be expected to be sited in unobtrusive and well-screened locations, close to any farm buildings on the site.
APPLICATIONS FOR TEMPORARY MOBILE HOMES REQUIRED IN THE GREEN BELT FOR AGRICULTURAL OR ALLIED PURPOSES, WILL NEED TO SATISFY THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN PPS7, ANNEX A, AND THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICY GB2
THE OCCUPATION OF THE MOBILE HOME SHALL BE RESTRICTED TO THAT OF THE APPLICANT AND HIS/HER FAMILY.
Permanent Dwellings for Agricultural Workers
7.45 A permanent dwelling may be considered where all the criteria in Policy GB12 can be satisfied. In order to limit the impact of development in the Green Belt, and to ensure that the dwelling is no larger than that required to meet the functional requirements of the business, the size of the dwelling will be restricted to a maximum of 167 sq.m, or 204 sq.m if the proposal incorporates the additional 37 sq.m allowed under Policy GB5 (in which case a condition will be attached to the permission removing permitted development rights for further floor space).
7.46 Planning permission for a permanent dwelling will be subject to an occupancy condition to ensure that accommodation remains available to meet the needs of the locality (in the case of a mobile home, occupation will be limited to the Applicant and his/her family) and the applicant will also be expected to enter into a legal agreement restricting occupancy.
APPLICATIONS FOR PERMANENT DWELLINGS REQUIRED IN THE GREEN BELT FOR AGRICULTURAL OR ALLIED PURPOSES, WILL NEED TO SATISFY THE CRITERIA SET OUT BELOW:
i) ANY DEVELOPMENT WILL HAVE TO SATISFY THE CRITERIA IN PPS 7, ANNEX A, IN PARTICULAR PARAGRAPHS 3 TO 11.
ii) WHERE A PERMANENT DWELLING IS ALLOWED FOLLOWING THE TEMPORARY USE OF A MOBILE HOME THE OWNER SHALL REMOVE THE MOBILE HOME FROM THE SITE ON OCCUPATION OF THE NEW DWELLING
iii) ANY DEVELOPMENT WILL HAVE TO SATISFY THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICY GB2. THE SIZE OF THE DWELLING SHOULD BE OF A SIZE COMMENSURATE WITH THE ESTABLISHED FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENT. THE FLOOR SPACE OF DWELLINGS APPROVED FOR BONA FIDE AGRICULTURAL WORKER OCCUPATION SHALL NOT EXCEED 167 SQ. M. HOWEVER, IF THE APPLICANT WISHES TO ERECT A DWELLING THAT INCORPORATES AT THE OUTSET, THE 37 SQ.M. ADDITIONAL FLOOR SPACE ALLOWABLE UNDER POLICY GB5, THEN A CONDITION WILL BE IMPOSED TAKING AWAY PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS TO EXTEND THE FLOOR SPACE ANY FURTHER
THE OCCUPATION OF THE DWELLING SHALL BE LIMITED TO A PERSON SOLELY OR MAINLY WORKING, OR LAST WORKING, IN THE LOCALITY IN AGRICULTURE OR IN FORESTRY, OR A WIDOW OR WIDOWER OF SUCH A PERSON AND TO ANY RESIDENT DEPENDANTS
WHERE APPROPRIATE A CONDITION WILL BE IMPOSED REMOVING PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS FOR DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE CURTILAGE OF A DWELLING HOUSE.
THE OWNER WILL ALSO BE EXPECTED TO ENTER INTO A LEGAL AGREEMENT PREVENTING THE DISPOSAL OF THE DWELLING SEPARATE FROM THE AGRICULTURAL HOLDING.
Removal of Agricultural Occupancy Condition
7.47 Changes in the scale and character of farming may affect the longer-term requirements for dwellings for which permission has been granted, subject to an agricultural occupancy condition. Such dwellings should not be kept vacant, nor should their present occupants be unnecessarily obliged to remain in occupation simply by virtue of planning conditions restricting occupancy, which have outlived their usefulness. Paragraph 17 of Annex to PPS7 “Sustainable Development in Rural Areas” (August 2004) requires local planning authorities to set out in Local Plans their policy approach to the retention or removal of agricultural occupancy conditions. Such a policy should be based on an up-to-date assessment of the demand for farm dwellings in the area, bearing in mind that it is the need for a dwelling for someone solely, mainly or last working in agriculture in an area as a whole, and not just on a particular holding, that is relevant in the case of farm workers’ dwellings. A policy satisfying these requirements is set out below.
PERMISSION WILL ONLY BE GIVEN FOR THE REMOVAL OF A CONDITION LIMITING OCCUPATION OF A DWELLING TO SOMEBODY LOCALLY EMPLOYED IN AGRICULTURE WHERE IT IS PROVEN THAT THERE IS NO LONGER A NEED FOR DWELLINGS FOR AGRICULTURAL WORKERS ON THAT FARM OR IN THE LOCALITY, AND WHERE BOTH OF THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
i) THE PROPERTY HAS BEEN ON THE MARKET, AT A PRICE THAT REFLECTS ITS OCCUPANCY CONDITION, FOR A SUFFICIENT PERIOD (NOT LESS THAN 18 MONTHS) TO ASCERTAIN DEMAND. AS PART OF THE MARKETING, THE PROPERTY SHALL BE ADVERTISED IN LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND AT LEAST TWO NATIONAL AND REGIONAL PERIODICALS THAT SPECIALISE, AMONG OTHER THINGS, IN ADVERTISING FARM PROPERTY FOR SALE.
ii) THE PROPERTY HAS BEEN OFFERED TO ALL FARMERS AND HORTICULTURALISTS HAVING HOLDINGS WITHIN AT LEAST A 3 KILOMETRE RADIUS FROM THE BOUNDARY OF THE HOLDING ON WHICH THE DWELLING IS SITUATED
7.48 Modern farm buildings are designed for economy and utility and, as a result, are less attractive than the older timber/brick barns. Farming has traditionally been given a wide exemption from planning control. Permitted development rights conferred by the General Permitted Development Order have made many agricultural buildings and operations exempt from planning control. However, there are no permitted development rights for new buildings on holdings of less than 5 hectares or, inter alia, above a certain size. In addition, in certain circumstances, permitted development rights for agricultural or forestry buildings on holdings above 5 hectares can not be exercised without first allowing the local planning authority to determine whether their prior approval is required for certain details i.e. siting, design and external appearance. Where permission or prior approval is required, the Authority will ensure that the siting, design and materials of the building do not result in it being obtrusive and are appropriate to its setting. In addition, further landscaping may be needed to soften the impact of the proposed development. Where planning permission is required, the Authority will additionally need to be satisfied that a building of the size proposed is justified having regard to the agricultural holding on which it is situated.
THE DESIGN, EXTERNAL APPEARANCE AND COLOUR OF NEW BUILDINGS FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH AGRICULTURE SHALL BE APPROPRIATE WITHIN THEIR SETTING. ALL NEW DEVELOPMENT SHALL BE SITED SO AS TO HAVE THE MINIMUM IMPACT AND MUST TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE PROVISIONS OF GB2.
RE-USE AND ADAPTATION OF RURAL BUILDINGS
7.49 Government advice on the re-use and adaptation of existing rural buildings, as set out in PPG2 and PPS7, takes a positive attitude to the re-use of rural buildings for business uses, identifying an important role in meeting the commercial and employment needs of rural areas, providing for tourism, sport and recreation, whilst reducing the demands for new buildings.
7.50 In line with the guidance set out in these documents, the conversion of a rural building will be acceptable in principle subject to other considerations such as the attractiveness, construction and permanence of the building, it not requiring extensions or additional buildings, it not requiring alterations detrimental to its character or appearance, and it not having an adverse effect on its surroundings. However, particular care will be taken in considering applications for the conversion of buildings erected under agricultural permitted development rights and permission will not be granted for the change of use of any such building within ten years of its substantial completion.
Small-Scale Employment, Tourism, Leisure and Community Uses
7.51 There are fewer opportunities for employment in rural areas and the conversion of rural buildings can provide new job opportunities and boost the rural economy. Furthermore, there is a lack of small commercial premises in the Borough as a whole and the conversion of these buildings can offer an opportunity to provide for these needs. Small-scale tourism and leisure facilities can also provide additional opportunities for agricultural diversification. The Council will allow, therefore, the conversion of rural buildings in the Green Belt to small-scale commercial enterprise, tourism, leisure and community uses but subject to strict criteria.
7.52 When consideration is given to allowing exceptions to the general presumption against development in the Green Belt care must be taken to protect local amenities and the natural environment. It is, therefore, essential to have information on traffic generation and precise details of the proposed use in order for an application to be properly considered. Where appropriate, permissions initially may only be given for a limited period to allow for the impact of the new use to be assessed.
7.53 The conversion of a rural building to accommodate some alternative use may significantly affect the character of the building. It is important to ensure that the building retains its rural character and remains an attractive feature in its rural setting after it is converted. Where appropriate, a condition will be attached to a permission removing permitted development rights allowing, for example, new buildings and structures (including walls and fences) to be erected. (For consideration of retailing and farm shops see Policy GB19).
THERE WILL BE A PRESUMPTION IN FAVOUR OF THE RE-USE OR ADAPTATION OF RURAL BUILDINGS FOR SMALL-SCALE EMPLOYMENT, TOURISM, LEISURE OR COMMUNITY USES PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
(i) THERE IS NO MATERIALLY GREATER IMPACT THAN THE ORIGINAL USE UPON THE OPENNESS OF THE GREEN BELT;
(ii) THE BUILDING IS OF PERMANENT AND SUBSTANTIAL CONSTRUCTION AND IS CAPABLE OF CONVERSION WITHOUT MAJOR OR COMPLETE RECONSTRUCTION AND WITHOUT MAJOR ALTERATION TO ITS EXTERNAL APPEARANCE – CONDITIONS MAY BE IMPOSED UPON ANY PLANNING PERMISSION FOR PROPOSED STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO SECURE AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE APPEARANCE OF THE BUILDING AND ITS IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS;
(iii) THE NEW USE SHOULD NOT REQUIRE EXTENSION OF THE BUILDING OR ADDITIONAL “OPEN ELEMENTS” WHICH MIGHT CONFLICT WITH THE OPENNESS OF THE GREEN BELT AND THE PURPOSES OF INCLUDING LAND WITHIN IT;
(iv) THERE IS NO UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT UPON THE SURROUNDING COUNTRYSIDE, AND ITS LANDSCAPE OR WILDLIFE;
(v) THE USE WOULD BE UNLIKELY TO GIVE RISE TO FUTURE REQUIREMENTS FOR FURTHER SUBSTANTIAL AREAS OF OPEN LAND AND OPERATIONAL DEVELOPMENT TO BE ADDED TO THE RE-USED BUILDING AND ITS IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS FOR INAPPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENT.
WHERE APPROPRIATE, CONDITIONS WILL BE IMPOSED, INTER ALIA, TAKING AWAY PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS TO EXTEND THE PROPERTY, TO ALTER THE EXTERNAL APPEARANCE, TO CONSTRUCT BUILDINGS OR STRUCTURES (INCLUDING WALLS/FENCES) WITHIN THE CURTILAGE, AND TO CHANGE THE USE
PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR THE RE-USE OF AN AGRICULTURAL BUILDING ERECTED UNDER CLASS A OF PART 6 OF SCHEDULE 2 OF THE GENERAL PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT ORDER 1995 WITHIN 10 YEARS OF ITS SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION
Buildings granted permission for re-use under this policy will not be allowed to be replaced at any future date
7.54 The Council will generally apply a presumption in favour of employment generating uses and a presumption against residential uses in proposals for the re-use of rural buildings.
7.55 The Borough's location on the fringe of London has resulted in a more intensive scattering of rural buildings than other areas due to the fragmented size of farm holdings and the variety of uses attracted to the edge of the Metropolitan Area. The main settlements are also more closely spaced, resulting in the Green Belt areas between settlements being more sensitive to development. Residential re-use is, therefore, a matter of some concern due to the large number of potential properties involved and the impact that could result on the rural character of the Green Belt.
7.56 Furthermore, in order to provide adequate habitable standards, a residential conversion requires significantly greater alteration to the existing building than does a commercial use. Residential conversions, therefore, can often have a detrimental effect on the fabric and character of a rural building. The introduction of features such as new windows and door openings and the need to meet building regulation requirements can lead to changes unsympathetic to the character of the building. It is considered that rarely can a rural building be converted to residential use without the character of the site changing
7.57 For the foregoing reasons, a residential conversion will only be permitted where every reasonable effort has been made to secure a suitable business use, or the residential use is a subordinate part of a business re-use, or the use is required for an agricultural or forestry worker.
7.58 Except in the case of agricultural or forestry worker accommodation, the re-use of rural buildings, of no architectural or historic interest, for residential use will not be permitted if those buildings occupy isolated sites in the Green Belt located away from defined settlements.
7.59 Where a residential conversion is justified it will be essential to ensure that a residentially converted rural building does not have the appearance of a new dwelling and does not set a precedent for new residential development in the Green Belt. In addition, the building must be capable of conversion without the creation of a residential curtilage having a harmful effect on both the building and the surrounding countryside due to the unacceptable intrusiveness of increased activity and various domestic additions such as garaging, sheds, clothes lines, play equipment, walls and fences, patios and hardstandings. Residential re-use, therefore, will be restricted to a building within a group so as to enable the intrusiveness to be minimised by using, where possible, the buildings to provide for such purposes or to screen such development.
7.60 A dwelling also enjoys substantial permitted development rights, in relation to both the building and its curtilage. Where appropriate a condition will be attached to a planning permission removing permitted development rights to extend, to alter the external appearance of the premises and to construct buildings and structures within the curtilage (including walls and fences).
THE CONVERSION OF RURAL BUILDINGS TO RESIDENTIAL USE WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THE PROPOSAL COMPLIES WITH ALL THE APPROPRIATE CRITERIA OF POLICY GB15 AND ADDITIONALLY ONLY WHERE THE FOLLOWING SPECIAL JUSTIFICATIONS APPLY:
i) THE APPLICANT IS ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT EVERY REASONABLE EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO SECURE A SUITABLE BUSINESS RE-USE; OR
ii) THE RESIDENTIAL USE IS A SUBORDINATE PART OF A SCHEME FOR BUSINESS RE-USE; OR
iii) THE USE IS ESSENTIAL TO ENABLE A FARM OR FORESTRY WORKER TO LIVE AT OR NEAR THEIR PLACE OF WORK;
IN THE CASE OF EITHER (i) OR (ii) ABOVE, THE FOLLOWING TWO CRITERIA MUST ALSO BE MET:
a) THE BUILDING PROPOSED FOR CONVERSION MUST BE LOCATED WITHIN OR DIRECTLY ADJOINING A SMALL GROUP OF BUILDINGS, AND
b) THE BUILDING MUST BE CAPABLE OF CONVERSION WITHOUT RESULTING IN UNACCEPTABLY INTRUSIVE DOMESTIC ELEMENTS SUCH AS NEW CURTILAGES, GARAGING, SHEDS, WALLING/FENCES, CLOTHES LINES, PLAY EQUIPMENT, DOMESTIC STORAGE AND HARDSTANDINGS. FURTHERMORE, THE PROPOSED RE-USE SHOULD NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON THE FABRIC AND CHARACTER OF THE BUILDING DUE TO UNSYMPATHETIC CHANGES TO, OR THE INTRODUCTION OF, FEATURES SUCH AS WINDOWS, DOOR OPENINGS AND CHIMNEYS.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
Conversion or Change of Use of Listed Buildings
7.61 It is accepted that where the preservation of a building of special historic or architectural interest is essential, this may justify the relaxation of other planning policies. However, the Local Planning Authority will need to be satisfied that any proposed change of use will not give rise to an unduly increased level of activity within the Green Belt. It will be expected, therefore, that possible conversion to uses generating a lower level of activity will first be investigated before considering more intense uses for listed buildings. For all applications involving changes of use, detailed plans will be required in accordance with Policy C17.
7.62 In relation to the conversion of listed barns to dwellings, Essex County Council have revised their supplementary planning guidance in the form of a document entitled "Historic Barn Conversions - A Way Forward", which now emphasises the great difficulties encountered when attempting such conversions and indeed presumes against this type of development. In the process of conversion to residential use, the concerns expressed in relation to residential conversions referred to above in Policy GB16 are all the more critical i.e. new openings made into the walls and roofs to accommodate doors and windows and unsuitable internal partitions. Suburbanisation in the form of fences, drives and external lighting, for example, further detract from the setting of the original listed barn as well as impacting on the Green Belt. Sensitive commercial conversions of barns, however, can use the large open space to advantage and can achieve renovation with relatively little alteration.
WHERE THE COUNCIL IS SATISFIED THAT THE PRESENT USE OF A LISTED BUILDING LOCATED WITHIN THE GREEN BELT IS NO LONGER VIABLE, AS A MEANS OF ENSURING ITS ADEQUATE MAINTENANCE, PERMISSION MAY BE GRANTED FOR CONVERSION OR CHANGES OF USE WHERE ALL THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
i) THE HISTORIC OR ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER OF THE BUILDING WILL BE RETAINED AFTER SUCH CONVERSION
ii) EXTENSIONS OR INAPPROPRIATE ALTERATIONS ARE NOT NECESSARY TO FACILITATE THE NEW USE
iii) THE PROPOSAL WILL NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON OTHER PERSONS' ENJOYMENT OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
iv) PROPOSALS MUST TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE PROVISIONS OF GB2, C15, C16 AND C17
WHERE APPROPRIATE, A CONDITION WILL BE IMPOSED REMOVING PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS TO EXTEND THE BUILDING, TO ERECT WALLS/FENCES AND TO ERECT OUTBUILDINGS.
COMMERCIAL AND OTHER DEVELOPED SITES
Existing Inappropriate Development Sites
(i) Commercial Sites
7.63 In line with the advice in PPG2, the Council has undertaken an assessment and concluded that there are no sites within the Green Belt that are appropriate for identification as ‘Major Developed Sites’ (as defined in Annex C of PPG2). However, there are clearly a number of existing sites that are used for purposes inappropriate in the Green Belt. Sites exist on which commercial activity is taking place without the benefit of a specific allocation or permission but has become established over a long period of time. Little can be done to remove such uses as relocation to an alternative site in the built up area is constrained by the availability of land and is usually prohibitively expensive. There are two large inappropriate development sites in the Borough at Thoby Priory, Mountnessing and the Clapgate Estate, Stondon Massey.
7.64 Thoby Priory comprises 4.1 hectares of land off Thoby Lane. Although the site is relatively well screened, access is via a narrow road, unsuitable for intensive traffic use, and results in heavy traffic having to travel through the village of Mountnessing. The site does not contain any significant building mass and it is subdivided in tenure. There has been pressure for development but it has been Council practice consistently to resist any new buildings on the site.
7.65 The Clapgate Estate is an extensive plotland area including a number of commercial uses and access to the estate is poor. Pressure for further development has been consistently and successfully resisted.
7.66 Any consolidation or extension of these sites would cause further problems and be incompatible with the Council’s Green Belt Strategy.
7.67 Some commercial use sites provide small low cost premises for which a known demand exists. In some cases businesses are being carried out in substandard accommodation where the replacement of the existing buildings could be an improvement in Green Belt terms. Expansion or intensification of commercial uses would, however, be incompatible with Green Belt policy and will not be allowed, whilst the reasonable replacement of existing buildings will be subject to exacting criteria. It is not intended, however, that the policy allows for the redevelopment of an existing commercial site for a completely new commercial use unrelated to the existing use, unless there are very special circumstances, such as an improvement to the local environment. Neither is it intended that this policy shall relate to rural buildings previously granted planning permission for conversion to commercial use.
(ii) Institutional Sites
7.68 In addition to commercial sites, there are a number of existing institutions within the Borough's Green Belt. PPG2 advice has deleted institutions from the list of appropriate uses in the Green Belt (such uses include, inter alia, nursing homes or other similar residential homes, hospitals and educational establishments). New institutional development, therefore, is no longer acceptable in the Green Belt. Therefore, any proposal for new institutional development, including extensions to an existing institution will need to be justified by very special circumstances. Such circumstances may arguably exist in the case of, for example, a school which is providing for a very specific need in the immediate locality and which needs to cater for the demand for school places or to make provision for improved facilities. In other instances, an institution may be able to argue a requirement to provide additional "essential facilities" to meet, for example, the needs for the disabled or works required to meet other specific legislation. Where very special circumstances cannot be shown, extensions to existing institutions will normally be refused.
7.69 Any development proposals for existing commercial sites, institutional sites or other inappropriate development sites in the Green Belt will be considered against the criteria set out in Policy GB18.
THE EXPANSION OR INTENSIFICATION (INCLUDING EXTENSIONS) OF EXISTING INAPPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE GREEN BELT WILL BE REFUSED. HOWEVER, THE REASONABLE REPLACEMENT OF EXISTING BUILDINGS MAY BE ALLOWED SUBJECT TO POLICY GB2 AND WHERE THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
i) THE PROPOSAL WOULD NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON PEOPLE’S ENJOYMENT OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
ii) THE VISUAL MASS OF THE NEW BUILDING SHOULD BE NO GREATER THAN THE MASS OF THE EXISTING BUILDINGS
iii) THE PROPOSAL WOULD NOT LEAD TO AN EXPANSION OR INTENSIFICATION OF ACTIVITY ON THE SITE
PROPOSALS FOR COMMERCIAL SITES MUST ALSO COMPLY WITH THE CRITERIA IN POLICY E8.
N.B. This policy is not intended to relate to uses that have been created via the re-use of rural buildings.
Farm Shops And Retailing
7.70 Demand for commercial outlets associated with agricultural/horticultural holdings is high, particularly with the advent of agricultural diversification. When only produce grown on the holding is being sold planning permission is not required. A very small amount of other produce may also be sold without planning permission. However, frequently farm shops not only retail produce grown on the holding but import quantities of other produce to supplement their trade. The sale of produce not grown on the holding will only be permitted where this supports the seasonality of “own grown” produce. The sale of items from an existing farm business producing goods on the premises may also be supported.
7.71 The Council recognises the support to a farm's income that a retail outlet can give but at the same time would not want to see a proliferation of unrelated retail businesses in the countryside or an undue increase in activity in the Green Belt. Council policy seeks to protect and enhance the retail pattern in the Borough, including the safeguarding of traditional village shops, in order to retain such rural services and in locations more accessible to a choice of transport mode.
7.72 The construction of new buildings for the sale of farm produce will not be allowed. Advertising associated with any farm shop will be controlled having regard to the policies set out in the Conservation and Protection of the Environment Chapter. Due to the sensitivity of advertising in the Green Belt, these policies will be strictly applied.
CHANGE OF USE OF EXISTING FARM BUILDINGS FOR THE SALE OF FARM PRODUCE GROWN ON THE HOLDING OR PRODUCTS ARISING FROM AN EXISTING FARM BUSINESS WILL BE SUPPORTED, SUBJECT TO NO UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON EXISTING VILLAGE SHOPS, SALE OF PRODUCE NOT GROWN ON THE HOLDING WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THIS SUPPORTS THE SEASONALITY OF PRODUCE GROWN ON THE HOLDING. PROPOSALS INVOLVING THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW BUILDINGS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED.
7.73 A high proportion of garden centre trade is the retailing of materials and other items with little or no dependence on the land, e.g. patio tables, chairs, paving slabs, fences, swimming pools, etc. Often this activity is part of a bona fide Nursery Garden, and where it forms a small part of the overall use, (i.e. small in ground area) may be acceptable as an incidental and ancillary part of the use. However, modern trading habits often require sites solely or mainly devoted to retailing and display of garden products and equipment involving relatively large areas of land. Land values within the urban area tend to direct pressure for this development to the Green Belt. However, the appearance of such sites is not compatible with Green Belt aims.
IN THE GREEN BELT, PROPOSALS FOR GARDEN CENTRES OR SIMILAR RETAIL DISPLAY AREAS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED. THE PROVISION OF A LIMITED AREA FOR THE DISPLAY AND SALE OF GOODS, AS AN ADJUNCT TO A NURSERY GARDEN, WILL BE ALLOWED ONLY WHERE THE CRITERIA IN POLICY CP1 ARE MET. LANDSCAPE ENHANCEMENT WILL BE REQUIRED.
Cemeteries and Crematoria
7.74 Cemeteries have long been accepted within the Green Belt, as they are open in character. The Borough is currently served by two municipal cemeteries: London Road, which has been extended as a result of land passing to the Council from the development of the British Telecom offices on the former St.Faiths Hospital site, and Woodman Road which is estimated to reach capacity by the year 2010. There is an increasing public preference for cremation, but there is no crematorium in the Borough and the nearest locations are at Upminster, 7.5 miles away and at Chelmsford, 11 miles away. A crematorium necessarily involves a substantial building, but the nature of such a facility usually precludes its location in a residential area. Indeed, the Cremation Act 1902 requires a crematorium to be sited no nearer than 183 metres to any dwelling and 46 metres to a public highway.
7.75 A crematorium would not normally be an appropriate use in the Green Belt and could only be considered in very special circumstances if no available site could be found in the urban area. Any further provision for additional cemetery space will be considered in terms of, inter alia, its visual impact, level of activity and traffic generation, as set out in the following policy.
THE PROVISION OF NEW CEMETERIES, OR EXTENSIONS TO EXISTING CEMETERIES, WILL BE ALLOWED SUBJECT TO MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS SET OUT IN POLICY GB2 AND SUBJECT TO THE PROVISION OF LANDSCAPE ENHANCEMENT WHERE NECESSARY. IN THE CASE OF NEW CEMETERY PROPOSALS, ANY BUILDINGS REQUIRED FOR ESSENTIAL FACILITIES SHOULD BE PROVIDED BY WAY OF THE RE-USE OF EXISTING BUILDINGS OR WHERE ANY NEW BUILDINGS WOULD REPLACE EXISTING STRUCTURES.
SPORT AND RECREATION IN THE GREEN BELT
7.76 The use of land for outdoor sport is one of the appropriate uses of land within the Green Belt. Two of the objectives set out in PPG2 for the Green Belt are to provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population and to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas. With farmers looking to diversify beyond the agricultural industry in order to supplement their incomes, sport and recreation provides an additional source of income and employment in rural areas. Proposals such as golf courses may, in principle, be considered a reasonable alternative use for farm land that is taken out of production, but it should be borne in mind that once agricultural land is developed, even for such ‘soft uses’, its return to best quality agricultural use is seldom practicable.
7.77 Some uses, such as golf driving ranges, tennis courts and all weather pitches, often involve the erection of high fences that would generally intrude in the Green Belt. In addition, floodlighting is often a required facility but can be an alien element within the Green Belt. Floodlighting will only be permitted, therefore, where its impact is made acceptable through sensitive siting and the inclusion of amelioration measures (see Policy C25). These matters, together with access and impact on the transport network, will need to be taken into account when considering whether an outdoor sports proposal is acceptable.
7.78 Special care will need to be taken where any new recreational facilities are to be located in or in the vicinity of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, County Wildlife Sites or in “Areas of Special Landscape."
PROPOSALS FOR THE USE OF LAND FOR OUTDOOR PARTICIPATORY SPORT AND RECREATION, WILL ONLY BE ALLOWED IN THE GREEN BELT WHERE ALL THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
i) THE PROPOSAL WOULD NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON OTHER PERSONS ENJOYMENT OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
ii) IT WOULD NOT RESULT IN THE PERMANENT LOSS OF THE BEST OR MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND IN ACCORDANCE WITH POLICY IR3
iii) IT WOULD NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON A SITE OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST, A COUNTY WILDLIFE SITE OR AN AREA OF SPECIAL LANDSCAPE
iv) IT WOULD NOT REQUIRE UNACCEPTABLY PROMINENT ANCILLARY FACILITIES E.G. FENCES, FLOODLIGHTING, CAR PARKING, ETC.
APPLICATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED AGAINST THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICY GB2
7.79 PPG2 allows the construction of new buildings for essential facilities for outdoor sport and recreation and other uses which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. Whilst small changing rooms, toilets, first aid facilities, etc., will often need to be provided, other non-essential facilities will be refused. Any social facilities provided should be solely for those participating in the recreational activities taking place on the site. The scale of the proposed buildings will be considered in relation to environmental factors such as the physical characteristics of the landscape, impact on the transport network, etc.
PROPOSALS FOR SMALL SCALE BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES REQUIRED FOR OUTDOOR PARTICIPATORY SPORT AND RECREATION WILL ONLY BE ALLOWED WHERE THERE IS A JUSTIFIABLE NEED FOR SUCH BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES. ANY SOCIAL FACILITIES INCIDENTAL TO THE PRIMARY USE OF THE SITE WILL BE RESTRICTED IN SIZE AND WILL BE SOLELY FOR USE OF PERSONS PARTICIPATING IN THE RECREATIONAL ACTIVITY ON THE SITE AND, SHALL BE PERMANENTLY RETAINED AS SUCH. WHERE ANY PROPOSAL IS ACCEPTABLE IN PRINCIPLE THE APPLICATION WILL BE JUDGED AGAINST THE REQUIREMENTS SET OUT IN GB2.
7.80 Demand for golf courses grew rapidly during the 1980s and early 1990s. The location of the Borough adjacent to Greater London was a contributory factor in its attractiveness for developers of large land take recreational uses and the Borough is now well provided with golf courses. Advice from the then Eastern Council for Sport and Recreation, now Sport England, has indicated that their minimum standard of provision has been exceeded. This does not necessarily preclude further provision. However, in a situation where there is no shortfall it is appropriate to judge proposals for new golf courses critically with particular reference to impact on the landscape and biodiversity, and relationship to existing properties and rights of way.
7.81 The acceptance of a golf course proposal will result in the demand for ancillary buildings and possibly habitable accommodation. In order to minimise the impact of club buildings and green keepers’ dwellings, proposals will only be permitted where existing buildings are available and suitable for conversion, or where, for example, there is the opportunity to remove from the landscape existing significant structures or groups of buildings. The inclusion within the site of an existing dwelling that would provide accommodation for a green keeper would be advantageous. The location of car parking and any safety fencing will also need careful consideration. Policies GB22 and GB23 contain a number of criteria against which a proposal will be considered. Where a proposal is acceptable, improvements to the public rights of way network would be sought
CHANGES OF USE TO GOLF COURSES WILL ONLY BE ALLOWED WHERE EXISTING BUILDINGS ARE AVAILABLE WITHIN THE SITE FOR CONVERSION FOR CLUBHOUSE AND OTHER DIRECTLY RELATED PURPOSES OR WHERE ANY NEW BUILDINGS WOULD REPLACE EXISTING STRUCTURES AND WHERE THE CRITERIA IN POLICIES GB22 AND GB23 ABOVE ARE MET. FOOTPATHS AND BRIDLEWAYS, WHERE APPROPRIATE, SHALL BE PROVIDED AS PART OF THE GOLF COURSE LAYOUT. THE LAYOUT SHOULD HAVE DUE REGARD TO THE EXISTING PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY NETWORK AND ACCOMMODATE EXISTING ROUTES.
Riding Schools and Livery Stables
7.82 A problem frequently associated with the urban fringe is the growing demand for horse keeping facilities. An advantage of this type of activity on farmland is that natural features, hedgerows and trees are not “grubbed out” in order to promote greater efficiency, thus a natural habitat survives and variety in the landscape is retained. However, the paraphernalia that goes with riding schools, and conglomeration of unneighbourly buildings and uses makes the siting of such establishments particularly sensitive. Traffic generation associated with such uses also needs to be the subject of careful consideration. The attraction of horseboxes, etc, to such sites is inevitable, and these vehicles tend to dominate the landscape and create damage to verges, detracting from the character of the Green Belt. The most satisfactory proposals are likely to be those that are focused on groups of existing buildings, such as a former farm complex. In considering the siting of such facilities regard will also need to be given to the potential safety problems both to the horse and rider and other road users arising from the possible necessity of exercising horses on narrow, winding rural lanes. In this respect, proximity to the bridleway system would be advantageous and the creation of new bridleways will be encouraged.
7.83 Permission will not be granted for a new dwelling as part of any proposal. Consideration may be given to the provision of overnight accommodation where this can be justified.
DEVELOPMENT REQUIRED IN CONNECTION WITH RIDING SCHOOLS AND LIVERY STABLES WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE ALL THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
i) ANY BUILDINGS REQUIRED SHOULD GENERALLY BE PROVIDED BY THE RE-USE OF EXISTING BUILDINGS. ANY ADDITIONAL BUILDINGS SHOULD BE SMALL IN SCALE
ii) THE PROPOSAL WILL NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON OTHER PERSONS' ENJOYMENT OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
iii) IT WOULD NOT RESULT IN THE PERMANENT LOSS OF THE BEST OR MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND IN ACCORDANCE WITH POLICY IR5
iv) PROPOSALS MUST TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE PROVISIONS OF GB2
v) THE DEVELOPMENT MUST NOT GIVE RISE TO ADVERSE HIGHWAY SAFETY CONDITIONS INVOLVING HORSE TRAFFIC AND IN THIS RESPECT CONSIDERATION WILL BE GIVEN TO THE PROXIMITY OF THE PROPOSAL TO THE BRIDLEWAY NETWORK AND/OR THE PROVISION OF NEW BRIDLEWAY LINKS.
PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR A NEW DWELLING AS PART OF ANY PROPOSAL.
7.84 There are frequent demands for the provision of private (i.e. non-livery) stables, usually associated with an existing dwelling. Whilst the erection of such stables within or immediately adjoining domestic curtilages is often acceptable, their siting in locations unrelated to a residential curtilage gives rise to the proliferation of building activity in the Green Belt.
OTHER THAN THOSE REFERRED TO IN POLICY GB25, PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR THE ERECTION OF NEW STABLES UNLESS SITED WITHIN OR, EXCEPTIONALLY, IMMEDIATELY ADJOINING THE CURTILAGE OF A DWELLING.
Access To The Countryside
7.85 Brentwood is a Borough with most of its population concentrated in one urban area and several minor settlements surrounded by a substantial rural area maintained its Green Belt designation. This is served by an extensive network of footways, bridleways, byways and minor local roads providing access to, and informal enjoyment of, the countryside. This proximity of the countryside to town dwellers also provides an opportunity by recognising the importance of this relationship to those who live or work there, and also in providing the nearest and most accessible countryside to urban residents. Paragraph 26 of PPS7, “Sustainable Development in Rural Areas” (August 2004) requires Local Plans to address the particular land use issues and opportunities to be found in the countryside around all urban areas. Planning authorities should aim to secure environmental improvements and maximise a range of beneficial uses of this land, whilst reducing potential conflicts between neighbouring land uses. This should include improvement of public access (e.g. through support for the country parks and community forests) and facilitating the provision of appropriate sport and recreation facilities.
7.86 The Council will undertake to safeguard the existence and the amenity of these rights of way. Development proposals likely to have a detrimental effect on a footpath, bridleway or byway will not be permitted. Before accepting diversions of any rights of way, the Council will consider whether the intended diversion provides a suitable alternative in terms of amenity and interest value and that it would not have an adverse effect on the right of way network as a whole. Many footpaths have become overgrown through under use. The Brentwood Countryside Management Service works to improve the standard of these rights of way including the maintenance of stiles and bridges, waymarking and clearance of vegetation. Furthermore, where a right of way has been ploughed up or obstructed the appropriate action will be taken against the offenders, and the right of way reinstated.
7.87 The local authority can also assist landowners in maintaining and improving their land in the Green Belt by working together with them through the Brentwood Countryside Management Service, with voluntary organisations and with the statutory bodies such as the Countryside Agency and the Forestry Commission. The aim should be to enhance especially those areas of land within the Green Belt that are suffering from disuse or neglect, while possibly improving access to these areas by voluntary agreement. This is particularly important in areas that are close to existing urban development, which can be especially vulnerable to neglect or damage. Access to the countryside is also a core objective of the Thames Chase Community Forest and the Council will continue to work with and support the project team to improve access to the countryside within the Forest area.
THE COUNCIL WILL SAFEGUARD THE EXISTENCE AND AMENITY OF RIGHTS OF WAY INCLUDING FOOTPATHS, BRIDLEWAYS, BYWAYS AND MINOR RURAL ROADS AND WILL, THROUGH ITS COUNTRYSIDE MANAGEMENT SERVICE AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF LOCAL LAND OWNERS, SEEK TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO THE COUNTRYSIDE THROUGH ESTABLISHMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF FOOTPATHS AND BRIDLEWAYS AND THROUGH VOLUNTARY AGREEMENTS TO MANAGE GREEN BELT LAND ON OR NEAR THE RURAL-URBAN FRINGE.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
7.88 Every opportunity will be taken to enhance the appearance of the countryside for those living in or visiting the Borough’s rural areas. This will be achieved through additional tree and hedge planting, or other management measures appropriate to the particular site. New planting should, wherever possible, be undertaken using species native to the area. Any work should be undertaken in a manner that protects the nature conservation value of the site and promotes biodiversity, including opportunities for habitat creation. Such works will be undertaken in relation to the grant of planning permission, Council initiatives or in partnership with private owners, including the provision of tree belts and screen planting in new road or other development proposals. The Council will work with and support Thames Chase in its aim to promote landscape enhancement within the Forest area.
WHERE APPROPRIATE, TREE PLANTING AND HEDGE SCREENING WILL BE EXPECTED IN PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE GREEN BELT. IN ADDITION, BRENTWOOD COUNTRYSIDE MANAGEMENT SERVICE WILL CARRY OUT NEW PLANTING ON PUBLICLY OWNED LAND AND, IN CO-OPERATION WITH THE OWNER, ON PRIVATE LAND. WITHIN SPECIAL LANDSCAPE AREAS AND OTHER AREAS WHERE THE LANDSCAPE NEEDS IMPROVEMENT EMPHASIS WILL BE GIVEN TO RESTORE AND ENHANCE DAMAGED LANDSCAPE AND WILL BE A REQUIREMENT WHERE APPROPRIATE. WHEREVER POSSIBLE, NEW PLANTING SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT USING SPECIES NATIVE TO THE AREA. PROPOSALS SHOULD SAFEGUARD THE EXISTING ECOLOGICAL VALUE OF THE SITE AND INCLUDE MEASURES FOR HABITAT CREATION.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.