Background-2-Curbar-Edge.jpg

chapter4

peak district landscape
 

Housing


Strategic context

4.1

The National Park is a very attractive place in which to live. It is within reach of a number of large cities and is therefore popular with commuters. It is also an established holiday destination and to some extent a retirement area. High demand for a limited stock of houses has meant that property prices are amongst the highest in the region. Even a modest two bedroom house can be beyond the reach of many young people who have grown up in the National Park. Many find it very difficult to set up home close to their families and work.

4.2

Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 (PPG3) deals with planning for housing. It stresses the need to maintain established environmental policies. At the same time, the Government is concerned that there should be adequate housing provision in rural areas to meet the needs of local people. The PPG states that a community’s need for affordable housing is a material planning consideration which may properly be taken into account in formulating Development Plan policies. Circular 6/98 Planning and Affordable Housing (April 1998), which supplements PPG3 advice, emphasises the importance of providing homes in a way which is consistent with the principles of sustainable development. Parts of Circular 6/98 refer to exceptional housing in rural areas, which is relevant to the National Park.

4.3

One of the National Park Authority's main purposes is to conserve and enhance the special qualities of the National Park. In doing so it should also seek to foster the social and economic needs of local communities. However, the roles of conservation and social provision can conflict with each other.

4.4

In 1995, Government projections indicated that there could be up to 4.4 million more households in England between 1991 and 2016. The Government White Paper entitled 'Household Growth : Where shall we live?' (1996) explored the factors involved, including locational issues. It recognises that the planning system strictly controls development in designated areas, including National Parks, and acknowledges that very special circumstances are required to justify development in these areas. It accepts that nationally designated countryside may not be able to accommodate the growth rates anticipated in other parts of the country. There is nothing in the White Paper to suggest that the National Park Authority should review the housing strategy established in the adopted Structure Plan (1994) and expanded in this Local Plan.

4.5

Chapter 4 of the Structure Plan considers housing issues in the National Park. The primary objective is to provide for local housing needs without damaging the National Park's valued characteristics, whilst retaining the life and vitality of its towns and villages and its current population of about 38,000 people. The National Park's population has not changed significantly since 1981. It can be sustained by allowing about 1,000 new houses to be built between 1991 and 2006 to compensate for a continuing fall in occupancy rates and the sale of houses by locals to others. Paragraphs 4.20-4.27 of the Structure Plan justify the National Park Authority's approach. Paragraph 4.31 indicates the number of houses that could be provided in each of 5 categories. However, these figures should not be regarded as either a target or a limit. A genuine need for affordable housing will always be given careful consideration.

4.6

There were over 16,500 dwellings in the National Park in April 1991, according to the Census of Population. More than 1,100 household spaces were added to the stock between 1981 and 1991. A further 693 permanent residential dwellings were completed between 1 April 1991 and 31 March 1998. At the end of March 1998, 118 dwellings were under construction and a start had yet to be made on a further 249 dwellings with planning permission. This indicates that whilst 1000 dwellings were anticipated, there are already 1060 houses committed. 811 of these have been built or are under construction just 7 years into the Structure Plan period. The number of dwellings completed has remained at an average of about 100 each year, despite the decline in applications and approvals. Even allowing for a further decline in the building rate (for example, through reduction of the Housing Corporation's budget), at least 1000 new dwellings are likely to be built by 2006.

4.7

The monitoring system agreed with the Department of the Environment and the Peak District Housing Forum (see paragraph 4.17) has revealed no case for strategic change. Tables 1 and 2 taken from the Annual Monitoring Report (1998) show the distribution of completions and commitments since April 1991. Further study of housing delivery has been carried out to highlight the specific opportunities and constraints that have affected the provision of housing for local need. Between April 1991 and March 1998, about 200 affordable homes for local need were granted planning permission in the National Park.

4.8

Structure Plan Policies GS2 and HC1 to HC4 set out how an overall population stability is to be achieved through housing policies. Policies C2 and C6 are also relevant. In summary:

 

(i)

Residential development will only be allowed where:

 

 

(a)

it forms part of the Bakewell Town Centre redevelopment proposals (GS2);

 

 

(b)

it involves the conversion of an existing building of traditional design in a town or village, provided it meets with conservation policies for design and the wider setting (HC1(a));

 

 

(c)

it is necessary for the purposes of agriculture or forestry (HC1(b), C6(ii));*

 

 

(d)

in settlements, it is necessary for the relocation of non-conforming uses or would enhance the valued characteristics of the Park (HC1(c)).

    * Agricultural and forestry dwellings are dealt with in chapter 3 (see Policy LC12).
 

(ii)

In exceptional circumstances new homes restricted to occupation by those people with a local need will be permitted in or on the edge of a town or village (when no suitable site within the town or village is available), where there is evidence of local need and provided that the size and type of dwelling will ensure that it continues to remain affordable to those in need (HC2).

 

(iii)

Necessary housing should normally be accommodated within the towns and villages of the parish where the need arises, or, where this is not possible, in a neighbouring parish within the National Park provided sufficient capacity and a basic level of service provision have been identified (HC3).

 

(iv)

Conversion of traditional buildings in the countryside may be possible where this meets a local need for affordable housing (C2(a)).

 

(v)

Caravans, mobile homes or other non-permanent structures for use as permanent residences will not be permitted (HC4).

 

Sites for general needs housing development in Bakewell

4.9

Structure Plan Policy GS2 for development in Bakewell acknowledges the town's importance as the National Park's major centre. It anticipated town centre redevelopment that has justified an exception to other Structure Plan policies and provided a limited number of new general needs houses.


Conversion of buildings of traditional design to a residential use

4.10

The principle of allowing the conversion of traditional buildings to residential use has already been established in the Structure Plan. Structure Plan Policy HC1(a) allows the conversion of traditional buildings for general needs housing in towns and villages. Designated Local Plan Settlements considered to be suitable for this type of development are listed at Local Plan policy LC2. During 1997/98, 34 buildings were given planning permission for conversion to residential use. Structure Plan Policy C2 allows the conversion of buildings to affordable housing in the countryside outside the Natural Zone.

4.11

It is recognised that traditional farm and other buildings often make a valuable contribution to the settlements and landscape of the National Park. When they become redundant or surplus to requirements they may (if not listed) be suitable for conversion to a residential use. Whilst Planning Policy Guidance Note 7 acknowledges the limited economic impact of residential conversions, it does recognise that they may have a part to play in meeting identified needs for new open market or affordable housing. It also accepts that Local Planning Authorities should consider the needs of their areas for both business and residential conversions.

4.12

Conversions to a commercial use are acceptable under Structure Plan Policy E1. However, the identified need and/or demand for houses in the National Park means that a residential use may also be acceptable in many cases. To be considered suitable for conversion, the proposal should accord with Conservation policies, in particular policy LC8 (LC6 and LC7 if a listed building is affected).

4.13

Similar buildings are often converted into holiday or second homes. Where such properties lie within a Local Plan Settlement, the National Park Authority would prefer to see these used as permanent dwellings. Unfortunately, planning permission is not usually required for a change of use between a permanent home and a holiday or second home. Local Plan paragraph 7.18 addresses this issue.

TABLE 1

DWELLINGS BUILT AND COMMITMENTS - 1 APRIL 1991 TO 31 MARCH 1998

 

Number of Dwellings Permitted

District

Completed

Under Construction

Outstanding

Total (excl lapsed)

Lapsed

 

Residential
Dwellings

Holiday Accom

Residential
Dwellings

Holiday
Accom

Residential Dwellings

Holiday Accom

Residential Dwellings

Holiday
Accom

Residential
Dwellings

Holiday
Accom

Macclesfield

21

3

11

6

6

3

38

12

4

2

High Peak

95

24

16

3

45

17

156

44

9

12

Derbyshire Dales

460

55

65

12

155

36

680

103

64

34

Staffordshire Moorlands

92

23

17

19

39

21

148

63

5

4

Sheffield

17

4

6

0

4

1

27

5

1

0

North East Derbyshire

1

0

3

0

0

0

4

0

0

0

Kirklees

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Barnsley

6

0

0

0

0

0

6

0

0

0

Oldham

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

TOTAL: National Park

693

109

118

40

249

79

1060

228

83

52

 

TABLE 2

NEW DWELLING COMMITMENTS - 1 APRIL 1997 TO 31 MARCH 1998

 

Number of Dwellings Permitted

Holiday
Units

 

 

Residential

District

Agricultural Dwellings

Conversion of Existing Buildings

New Build

Total

 

Local
Need

Agricultural
Occupancy
Condition

Other

Local
Need

Other

Local
Need

Other

Local
Need

Agricultural
Occupancy
Condition

Other

Macclesfield

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

2

2

High Peak

0

2

0

0

3

0

0

0

2

3

5

Derbyshire Dales

0

3

0

0

23

11

13

11

3

36

11

Staffordshire Moorlands

0

0

 

0

5

0

1

0

0

6

7

Sheffield

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

North East Derbyshire

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Kirklees

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Barnsley

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Oldham

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

0

5

0

0

34

11

14

11

5

48

 

TOTAL: National Park

5

34

25

64

25


NB: Table 2 is only new permissions given during the year ie there is no previous permission on the site or any previous one has lapsed.

Agricultural Dwellings includes conversions and new buildings.


Affordable housing for local need

4.14

Over the past decade the number of affordable houses available in the National Park to meet the needs of local people on or below moderate incomes has fallen. The 'Right to Buy' for council tenants has resulted in a reduction in council housing stock, whilst housing authorities and associations, suffering from policy and spending restrictions, have not been able to compensate fully for these losses.

4.15

Structure Plan Housing and Community policies seek to redress this imbalance by enabling the development of housing to meet proven local needs for affordable housing not available on the general market. Structure Plan Policy HC2 allows exceptionally for the development of new houses on sites that will not be released for general open market housing. Local Plan Policy LC2 identifies 63 settlements where it may be possible to allow development without harming the particular settlement's character. These settlements are generally the larger of the National Park's settlements and contain some services, community facilities and development capacity. Paragraphs 3.10-3.14 of the Conservation chapter explain why development should be directed towards them.

4.16

Ways of providing affordable housing in the National Park are limited. Apart from those categories of housing mentioned in paragraph 4.8, new housing will only be allowed on exception sites in accordance with Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 (Annex B). These sites are likely to be small (up to 10 dwellings) and all new build housing will be affordable and for local needs.

4.17

Circular 6/98 advises that local plan housing policies should be designed to reflect a good understanding of the needs of the area. To facilitate this, the National Park Authority works with others such as District Housing Authorities and Housing Associations to enable the provision of affordable housing in the National Park. The Peak District Housing Forum comprises representatives from constituent authorities, housing associations, the House Builders' Federation, the Housing Corporation and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. It meets regularly to exchange information and to oversee the monitoring of development plan housing policies.

4.18

Paragraphs 4.44-4.46 of the Structure Plan justify the National Park Authority's approach to the provision of affordable housing. For a local needs housing proposal to be successful and compatible with Structure Plan policies, a local need has to be proven, affordable housing has to be provided on a suitable site and the housing has to remain of the same size and type and thus at an affordable price for local people in perpetuity. At present this is carried out through the imposition of occupancy conditions and the encouragement of housing associations and families to build modest houses on 'discounted' land (see paragraph 4.22). The Local Plan provides the detailed policies for this procedure. Circular 6/98 stresses the need to monitor and enforce local occupancy conditions. PPG3 states that local plans should not seek to identify sites for affordable housing that are provided exceptionally in rural areas. This is because these sites would not normally be released for general housing and it is not practical to predict accurately how much affordable housing will be released in these exceptional circumstances. However, it was agreed during the Structure Plan process that the Local Plan should define 'affordability', 'need' and 'local'. These definitions, together with consideration of future occupants and site selection are as follows:


Affordable housing

4.19

Government advises that 'affordability' should be considered at a local level, where policies can reflect an essentially local problem. Circular 6/98 uses the term 'affordable housing' to encompass both low-cost market and subsidised or social housing that will be available to people who cannot afford to occupy houses generally available on the open market. The Structure Plan describes affordable housing as being suitable for those families that are in need and cannot afford to purchase on the open market. It is housing which can be acquired by as wide a percentage of the population or future population as is practicable. It helps to fill a gap in the market and provides the first rung on the housing ladder for those on low or moderate incomes, whose efforts may later be rewarded by access to open market housing The value of a house reflects its size and type and the market within which it can be sold. The most affordable housing is likely to be modest housing on limited plots subject to the occupancy condition. Terraced houses or houses with little space around them are of lowest market value. In appeal decisions during 1995/96 the Planning Inspectorate has concluded (on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Environment) that detached houses with large gardens are unlikely to remain affordable in perpetuity.

4.20

Both PPG3 and Circular 6/98 advises that the community's need for affordable housing is a material planning consideration which may properly be taken into account in formulating development plan policies. In line with this guidance, the National Park Authority considers that individual applications should be assessed as part of the need of the community as a whole. There are dangers inherent in highly personalised decisions which may only satisfy a transient need.

4.21

Guidance also stresses that affordable housing can comprise a variety of tenures, ownerships or financial arrangements. Whilst local plan policies cannot influence such issues, the National Park Authority notes that the Government has stated that it wishes to encourage a diversity of housing tenure. Thus the National Park Authority will consider planning applications from a variety of sources. Applications could be from housing associations, private developers and individuals or a combination of these. The overriding requirement will be the assurance that the housing provided remains at an affordable price backed by the occupancy condition.

4.22

A new house is likely to be more affordable if the land has been acquired at a discounted value or by way of a gift. Sometimes a member of a person's family provides a site. For those people who are unable or do not wish to buy a property, renting may prove the most affordable option, underwritten where necessary by housing benefit or income support. Housing associations aim to purchase land at a discounted price of up to five times agricultural value, allowing them to build affordable housing with the assistance of a capital grant. In each case the person or body proposing the affordable housing will be expected to provide a financial appraisal of the development to confirm that the houses will be available at a price which local people in housing need can afford.

4.23

Circular 6/98 suggests that the planning authority should set an upper size limit for single homes on rural sites by floorspace or by number of bedrooms. In the National Park, it is considered appropriate to indicate an upper size limit for guidance purposes rather than as a limit fixed in policy, and to link floorspace to the number of bed spaces (ie persons) rather than to use total floorspace or bedrooms in isolation.

4.24

As a guide the National Park Authority considers dwellings to be of an affordable size where they are no larger than the following total net floor area:

 

One person

34 square metres

 

Two persons

50 square metres

 

Three persons

62 square metres

 

Four persons

75 square metres

 

Five persons

87 square metres

 

(Source: Chief Housing Officer for Derbyshire Dales District Council in consultation with Housing Associations)

Houses for more than 5 persons are not often applied for, are less likely to be affordable and are thus unlikely to be provided by new permissions. Larger houses will be judged by individual circumstances. Where larger schemes are proposed, the accommodation should reflect the need for future change by including a mix of size and type of houses.

4.25

The National Park Authority will also take plot ratio into account - the smaller the area of land taken up per house, the less the impact on the National Park resource, the lower the cost of the land per house and the lower the value of the house on completion. Higher density housing is of a type more likely to be affordable in perpetuity. The Circular does not recommend density criteria. However, typical densities in National Park villages are high - about 28 dwellings per hectare. The former Environment Secretary (Mr John Gummer) recommended building at higher densities and criticised expensive 'executive' detached houses as being inappropriate in villages. There is a need for new development to be sensitive to local history, to allow interaction and to fit in with the village.

 

The need for a house

4.26

Before new affordable housing can be considered, the need for the new house or houses has to be established either for an individual or for the local community. The distinction between demand and need should be recognised. The number of people actually needing a newly built or converted home in the National Park has been shown to be far fewer when community assessments have been made in a particular area including a proper definition of need.

4.27

For an individual, proof of need is likely to be a clear indication that the person is unable to afford a house on the open market, is living in unsatisfactory conditions such as an overcrowded or unfit house and requires alternative accommodation. The person may be wishing to set up home for the first time. Where relevant, financial evidence will be expected together with information from the housing officer, doctors or social workers in support of the person's need.

4.28

A community's need may be identified by a district or parish council, a village organisation, a group of villagers or a private developer wishing to provide affordable housing in a village. Need would be proven through a housing needs survey, normally carried out by the district council in association with the parish council. If a parish council or other group wishes to carry out a survey, the questions should be agreed in advance with the district council. Private surveys should also be agreed in advance to ensure satisfactory content and process. Survey questionnaires should examine needs in a way which allows the National Park Authority's development plan policy tests to be applied. Otherwise they may not be acceptable. In each case the National Park Authority will critically examine the survey results to ensure that a genuine need exists for the number of houses requested. Past experience has shown that generally only about 25% of those people initially expressing a need for an affordable house actually take up residence. Up-to-date survey information with details within the previous 5 years is essential.

4.29

Before applying for a new house or housing, the individual or group will be expected to have examined the availability of properties in their own and adjoining parishes. For instance there may be council, housing association or private sector properties either available or known to be likely to become available, which are of a size and type to be affordable. Where property of a suitable price, size and type is available, new buildings are unlikely to be approved. Newly built affordable housing will only be allowed within Local Plan Settlements. If need arises within a parish that does not contain a Local Plan Settlement, the procedure set out in paragraph 4.37 would need to be followed. However, there may be opportunities to allow the conversion of traditional buildings to local needs housing in accordance with Structure Plan policies HC1 and C2. (See also Local Plan paragraph 4.10).

 

The local qualification

4.30

The Interim Housing Policy approved in 1989 included a definition of "local". This was translated into an occupancy condition that has been attached to planning consents for some time . The former Board sought the advice of Counsel who recommended using an obligation under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) to reinforce occupancy conditions in any case where development will be granted to meet an exceptional need. Government guidance recommends the use of either conditions or obligations but not both. The National Park Authority considers that obligations offer greater certainty in securing housing for local needs and ensure that in any change of occupation the new occupant is aware of the restriction. The Authority intends in future to invite applicants to enter into an obligation prior to consent for new housing being decided. Approval notices will make it clear that a planning obligation has been applied.

4.31

To be considered as local, a person should have a long and well-established connection with the area. This generally means that a person will have lived in the particular parish (or an adjoining parish within the National Park) where planning permission for a dwelling is being sought for a period of at least 10 years. For example, if a person is wishing to build a house in Castleton, it would be expected that he or she would have lived in Castleton, Edale, Hope, Bradwell or Peak Forest for a minimum of 10 years.

4.32

A period of residency of less than 10 years is considered to be too transitory. However, this period of residency need not have been continuous. For instance, a person may have spent a number of years away at college. The total aggregated period of residency is taken into account, taken over a period of 20 years.

4.33

There may be other circumstances entitling a person to a local needs dwelling. Occasionally, it may be essential for a person to live near his or her place of work. There could be other compelling social reasons for a person to live in a particular area, such as the need to care for (or be cared for by) a relative with a long-standing connection with a particular parish. In such circumstances letters of support are likely to be required from relevant sources.

4.34

The National Park Authority considers that where an application for a private dwelling is approved, the person proving the local need should be the first occupant of the dwelling. This requirement will be included in the obligation under Section 106.

 

Site selection

4.35

Justification of a local need does not necessarily, of itself, outweigh the protection of the National Park. New local needs housing is only likely to be acceptable in a Local Plan Settlement listed in Policy LC2 (paragraph 3.13). Even within these settlements, site selection can prove difficult. The need for an affordable house should not unduly compromise other policies intended to protect the National Park's valued characteristics. In practice, the failure to find sites has not yet proved to be a strategic problem, but progressively harder compromises are being made.

4.36

As mentioned previously, the Government has advised that Local Plans should not identify sites for affordable housing to meet local needs under the rural exceptions scheme. The case for releasing additional land which would not normally receive planning permission for housing will be based on site suitability, proven need, local qualification and affordability. The site selected should be capable of being developed in a way that would enhance the National Park rather than detract from it. Whilst higher densities are generally more appropriate in a village, the character of a particular settlement should always be respected. Proposals should respect open space of visual or amenity value in the village.

4.37

Where a parish does not contain a Local Plan Settlement (or a suitable site within one), the search for a site for a local needs house(s) would be directed towards an adjoining parish. For instance, a resident in need in Little Hucklow would be directed to a site in Bradwell, Great Hucklow or Tideswell. There may also be occasions where the demand for affordable housing is directed beyond the National Park's boundary. For instance, demand from Bosley, Wincle or Wildboarclough parishes could be met in Macclesfield Borough. When a parish is split by the National Park boundary, the identification of the most appropriate site will be a matter for discussion between the National Park Authority and the constituent authority concerned. Where the major part of the parish lies outside the National Park, the demand for local needs housing should normally be satisfied in that part of the parish lying outside the National Park.

 

Future occupants

4.38

People considering whether to buy on the open market, or to rent or buy restricted housing, or to build new restricted housing or to leave the National Park must be very clear indeed about the planning basis for valuation. The value of land with restricted planning permission for housing development will be less than the value of land with an unrestricted permission.

4.39

If a house is built which is restricted to the local market, it is possible that not all the money invested will be recovered, and it might be difficult to sell. Money should be invested in land or in building a house in order to stay in the National Park, rather than as a primarily financial decision. If the proposal is properly valued, borrowing a portion of the capital is possible. To underline the importance of the restriction, the National Park Authority proposes to seek a prior commitment in future cases by means of a planning obligation to accept the occupancy restriction . The National Park Authority is wholly committed to this approach. For this reason, a policy setting criteria for the release of local need occupancy is not put forward. However, the National Park Authority does accept the 'cascade approach' to new occupants after the first occupation, advocated in Circular 6/98. This is designed to ensure that occupants will always be found for any accommodation. Should no person who can demonstrate a local need come forward, after a reasonable period of time, the search for a suitable occupant may have to be widened. Each case will be viewed according to individual circumstances. No time limit is set in this Plan because circumstances vary widely. Decisions should be made case by case.



Policy LH1: Meeting local needs for affordable housing

Exceptionally residential development will be permitted either as a newly built dwelling in or on the edge of Local Plan Settlements (Policy LC2) or as the conversion of an existing building of traditional design and materials in the countryside provided that:

(i)

there is a proven need for the dwelling(s). In the case of proposals for more than one dwelling, this will be judged by reference to an up to date housing needs survey prepared by or in consultation with the district council as housing authority. In the case of individual dwellings, need will be judged by reference to the circumstances of the applicant including his or her present accommodation;

and

(ii)

the need cannot be met within the existing housing stock. Individuals may be asked to provide evidence of a search for suitable property which they can afford to purchase within both their own and adjoining parishes;

and

(iii)

the intended occupants meet the requirements of the National Park Authority's local occupancy criteria (policy LH2). In the case of proposals for more than one dwelling, where the intended occupants are not specified, a satisfactory mechanism to ensure compliance with the local occupancy restriction will be required - normally a planning obligation;

and

(iv)

the dwelling(s) will be affordable by size and type to local people on low or moderate incomes and will remain so in perpetuity;

and

(v)

the requirements of Policy LC4 are complied with.



Policy LH2: Definition of people with a local qualification

Exceptionally new housing will be permitted for a person with a proven need in accordance with Policy LH1 provided that the dwelling will be occupied by:

(i)

a person (and his or her dependants) who has a minimum period of 10 years' permanent residence in the parish or an adjoining parish and is currently living in accommodation which is overcrowded or otherwise unsatisfactory;

or

(ii)

a person (and his or her dependants) who has a minimum period of 10 years permanent residence in the parish or an adjoining parish and is forming a household for the first time;

or

(iii)

a person not now resident in the parish but with a proven need and a strong local connection with the parish, including a period of residence of 10 years or more within the last 20 years;

or

(iv)

a person who has an essential need to live close to another person who has a minimum of 10 years' residence in the parish, the essential need arising from age or infirmity;

or

(v)

a person who has an essential functional need to live close to his or her work in the parish, or an adjoining parish within the National Park.


4.40

It is strongly recommended that any proposals are discussed with the National Park Authority at an early stage. Sometimes the site preferred by the applicant is considered to be unsuitable by the National Park Authority. Preferably the site will be within a Local Plan Settlement and must be capable of being developed sympathetically for the required number of dwellings. The form and layout of the settlement should be respected. Where a community need is identified, consultation should begin at parish council level. The National Park Authority publishes a leaflet offering guidance on the preferred process.

4.41

Where schemes of more than one dwelling are proposed to meet community needs, the housing will often be rented or on a shared equity basis, with landlord control retained by a properly constituted social housing agency. The Government recognises that the involvement of a housing association or trust is the best way of ensuring that affordable housing will be enjoyed by successive as well as initial occupiers. If private schemes are to be permitted, the applicant will be expected to enter into a planning obligation to ensure the new housing remains for local need.

 

Replacement of agricultural occupancy conditions

4.42

A dwelling that has been permitted specifically for agriculture or forestry will ideally meet the needs of the farm business in perpetuity. However, occasionally circumstances change such that an agricultural occupant may not be found in the locality and the owner may request that the occupancy condition be removed. In such circumstances the National Park Authority would wish to be assured that appropriate steps have been taken to try to sell or lease the property with the occupancy condition or obligation, at a price reflecting the restriction. Alternatively, the National Park Authority may consider a temporary relaxation of the agricultural occupancy restriction to be more appropriate. If, after a reasonable period of time the property has not been sold or let, the National Park Authority might then substitute an agricultural occupancy restriction with a local occupancy restriction. This will ensure that the dwelling remains available to the National Park's residents in need of affordable housing. Finally, it might consider holiday lets on a temporary basis until there is a qualifying permanent resident.



Policy LH3: Replacement of agricultural occupancy conditions

(a)

The removal of a condition or obligation which restricts the occupancy of a dwelling to a person employed or last employed in agriculture or forestry will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that:

(i)

reasonable attempts have been made to allow the dwelling to be used by a person who could occupy it in accordance with the restriction;

and

(ii)

the long term need for the dwelling in the locality has ceased and removing the restriction would be more appropriate than a temporary relaxation.

(b)

Where, exceptionally, permission is granted for the release of an agricultural occupancy restriction, the occupancy of the dwelling will be limited, by an obligation, to local persons as described in Policy LH2. Where a local person cannot be found to occupy the dwelling, permission will be given, on a personal basis, to let the dwelling for holiday use until such time as an agricultural or local need arises again.



Extensions and alterations to dwellings

4.43

Householders may wish to extend their homes to improve the standard of property or to accommodate changing personal and family needs. Extensions include garages and outbuildings. Proposals are often acceptable, particularly if the extension is well designed and is not harmful to neighbours or conservation interests (see Chapter 3). However, a large extension may be unacceptable, particularly if it is tantamount to a new dwelling. The size of an addition can have a fundamental impact on the intrinsic character of a building of historic importance or of vernacular design or upon its setting in the landscape. The larger the extension, relative to existing size, the greater the likely impact. The National Park Authority's experience and advice is that extensions of up to 25% by floorspace or volume are likely to be acceptable. However, in respect of some houses this may be too big. Further advice on this issue will be included in Supplementary Planning Guidance.

4.44

Many alterations to houses do not need planning permission, but there will be circumstances where permission will be required for development, such as the erection of satellite dishes, which should be located and designed so as to minimise visual impact. The use of black mesh dishes of the smallest technically feasible size including shared dishes will often provide the best solution. Dishes are generally not appropriate on front elevations, or above the roof-ridge line, particularly in Conservation Areas and on terraces. The impact of a number of dishes on adjoining properties is often damaging to the character of the buildings and the area. Proposals for non-residential satellite dishes will be assessed against Policy LU5.



Policy LH4: Extensions and alterations to dwellings

Extensions and alterations to dwellings will be permitted provided that the proposal does not:

(i)

detract from the character, appearance or amenity of the original building, its setting or neighbouring buildings;

or

(ii)

dominate the original dwelling where it is of architectural, historic or vernacular merit;

or

(iii)

amount to the creation of a separate dwelling or an annexe that could be used as a separate dwelling.

Proposals for house extensions involving the conversion of adjoining buildings must also satisfy Policy LH6.


4.45

Householders may wish to extend their gardens. This is 'development'. Where it would harm the character of the area, Structure Plan Policies C2, C3 and C5 apply and can be used to prevent the extension. Additional policy in the Local Plan is not required.

 

Replacement dwellings

4.46

In recent years there has been increasing pressure to demolish and replace or rebuild or alter existing dwellings, especially in the open countryside. The existing dwelling might be either a small, substandard wooden or pre-fabricated dwelling or a traditional building of character. Such proposals need to be assessed in relation to the impact on the National Park. Replacement may be preferable to gradual alteration or extension. If a building is listed as being of architectural or historic interest, the National Park Authority would expect Conservation Policies LC6 and LC7 to apply. In such a case, it is appropriate to repair rather than rebuild.

4.47

In allowing proposals for replacement dwellings, the National Park Authority will take account of Policy LH4 and will expect the existing structure to be demolished. Where the existing dwelling is only used on an occasional basis, the National Park Authority will take into account that the new building may cause greater intrusion in the landscape by way of greater activity.



Policy LH5: Replacement dwellings

(a)

The replacement of unlisted dwellings will be permitted provided that:

(i)

the replacement dwelling contributes to the character or appearance of the area;

and

(ii)

it is not preferable to repair the existing dwelling;

and

(iii)

the proposed dwelling is of a similar size to the dwelling it will replace;

and

(iv)

it will not have an adverse effect on neighbouring properties;

and

(v)

it will not be more intrusive in the landscape, either through increased building mass or the greater activity created.

(b)

The existing structure must be removed from the site prior to the completion of the development or within 3 months of the occupation of the new dwelling where the existing dwelling is a family house.



Conversion of outbuildings within the curtilage of existing dwellings

4.48

Many substantial dwellings set in large curtilages have accompanying outbuildings which historically will have been used for storage purposes. Owners sometimes seek permission to convert such outbuildings to bedrooms, living rooms, flats or ancillary residential accommodation. This can lead to over-intensive development of the site resulting in loss of amenity and damage to the environment.

4.49

Whether or not an outbuilding is suitable for conversion is likely to depend on the size and character of the building and the disposition of the buildings within the site. Proposals for conversion will be examined carefully to ensure that there is a proper means of access, no loss of amenity to the buildings or damage to their setting. The National Park Authority will need to be assured that the loss of buildings for storage use such as garaging, will not result in subsequent requests for further new buildings which will themselves be harmful. Such applications are likely to be refused. The new accommodation created should remain the under the control of the occupier of the main dwelling. Permitted development rights are likely to be excluded.



Policy LH6: Conversion of outbuildings within the curtilages of existing dwellings to ancillary residential uses

The conversion of an outbuilding within the curtilages of an existing dwelling to ancillary residential use will be permitted provided that:

(i)

it would not harm the character of the building, the dwelling and the surrounding area;

and

(ii)

it would not result in an over-intensive use of the property, an inadequate standard of accommodation or amenity space, or the need to replace outbuildings at a later date;

and

(iii)

the site is large enough to meet the parking and access requirements of the proposed development;

and

(iv)

the new accommodation provided would remain under the control of the occupier of the main dwelling.



Living over the shop

4.50

The National Park Authority recognises that there may be opportunities to provide housing accommodation in disused or underused premises above shops. This can be a valuable addition to the affordable housing stock, providing modest accommodation within the National Park’s settlements. Paragraph 5.6 addresses this issue.

 

Gypsy caravan sites

4.51

Structure Plan paragraphs 4.57-4.60 set out the National Park Authority's approach to caravan sites - static caravans, whoever occupies them, are not normally appropriate in the National Park. Circular 1/94 (Gypsy Sites and Planning) advises that, whilst local authorities continue to have discretionary powers to provide gypsy caravan sites, as a rule it would not be appropriate to make provision for gypsy sites in protected areas. This confirms the approach taken in the Structure Plan. However, it is recognised that, exceptionally, a small family site might be justified for a limited period or seasonal occupation provided that its location would not cause harm. Such a case would be dealt with on its merits and would be judged against other Development Plan policy and Circular 1/94.


Policy LH7: Gypsy caravan sites

Gypsy caravan sites will not be permitted unless in exceptional circumstances it is possible to make provision for a small family site for a limited period or seasonal occupation without harming the character or appearance of the area.

 

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