DC NOTES At caravan/holiday parks
Although permanent dwellings for wardens/managers of rural caravan parks may be countered by an assertion that, even if a case is made for 24 hour supervision, use may be made of one of the permitted caravans on site. However, appeal cases have shown that in the case of established holiday static or residential caravan sites, a permanent manager’s dwelling is acceptable as infilling, even though that site is technically in open countryside.
The erection of a warden’s cottage was proposed at a static caravan and camping site. The site was required to close for a short time over Christmas and relief from that condition was also requested. The Special Planning Board accepted that there was need for a warden to live within the development but felt that location at the entrance to the site would be intrusive. An inspector noted that the warden’s duties were concerned with carrying out maintenance and repairs and to check on unoccupied caravans. He also had to deter vandals. These functions could be carried out best from a central position (Lake District 14/5/87 DCS No 100-011-816).
A dwelling was proposed for the manager of a 80 unit residential caravan park. It was not disputed that the on site residence of a manager was needed, but the council felt that the present arrangement, where the manager lived in one of the caravan units, should continue to avoid conflict with countryside protection policies. An inspector considered that a dwelling could be integrated within the site without harm to rural character. The appeal was allowed (Caradon 19/11/85 DCS No 100-007-130).
A manager’s house was proposed at a residential caravan site. Need for a resident manager was accepted and an inspector noted that the dwelling was to replace two of the caravan plots. He reasoned that no precedent would be set for further houses on this site, and that permission could be granted. He declined to impose a condition restricting occupation to the site manager reasoning that the dwelling’s location at the far end of the site “would tend to deter purchasers having no connection with the site” (Erewash 27/6/88 DCS No 046-400-162).
Planning permission was granted for the provision of a timber chalet at a holiday site in Devon, after an inspector concluded that there was a need for an on-site manager. The site lay near the Blackdown Hills AONB and contained four holiday lodges and two fishing lakes. The appellant had started a new fish farming venture involving buying small carp from a fishery with a growing contract to sell them back when they had reached a certain weight. He stated that large carp could be worth a considerable sum of money. In addition he asserted that letting the lodges to holiday makers had started to become profitable and visitors preferred a manager living on site to deal with emergencies including problems arising with the accommodation and improving security. The inspector noted national advice which stated that for many types of holiday parks a residential managerial presence was often essential to achieve the quality of service for customers and meet health and safety regulations. He agreed that the coarse fishing provided within the lakes was an integral part of the holiday package and the welfare of the fish for both fishermen and the growing large carp for sale, justified a permanent on-site manager. The necessary degree of supervision and control could not be obtained by the appellant living in a nearby town which was 20 minutes drive way, he opined. He imposed a condition limiting occupation of the chalet to a person solely or mainly employed in the fishing lodge enterprise and fish breeding business. (Mid Devon 06/02/07 DCS No 100-047-195).
Where a dwelling is required in connection with seasonal touring sites the case for a permanent dwelling is much reduced as demonstrated in the Vale of Glamorgan case noted below, but as the Brecon example shows, it may be possible to obtain permission in some circumstances.
The erection of a bungalow was proposed in order to facilitate supervision of a touring caravan site in the open countryside. An inspector could not accept that the need for the daily supervision of the site justified a someone living on the spot, particularly during the period when the site was closed down (Glamorgan 30/7/84 DCS No 050-009-277).
A warden’s dwelling at a touring caravan and tenting site was proposed. An inspector noted that the park was a viable operation, and that was a need for someone to live on the site in order to control it and to respond to the needs of the caravanners and campers throughout the whole period of the day. It would not be practicable for the warden to live in a nearby town and occupy “modest accommodation” at the site for the 9 months when the site would be open (Brecon Beacons 21/6/89 DCS No 037-932-728).
Gypsy site:A site warden’s bungalow was proposed at a 43 unit gypsy site. An inspector noted that the warden lived in a mobile home at present and he was not convinced that a permanent dwelling was needed for him to carry out his duties. The proposed buildings would be visually intrusive (Waverley 17/8/92 DCS No 100-027-287).
At religious/educational uses 9.2324
A Chaplain’s house was proposed at a private school. An inspector accepted that the there was an on-site need for such a residence, particularly as pupils were not allowed off site. A condition was applied restricting occupation to a member of the teaching staff (Bromley 20/11/87 DCS No.040-917-626).
Flats were proposed at a green belt Temple. An inspector accepted that there was a particular staffing requirement associated with this institution which attracted a great many people, and that existing accommodation was inadequate. The appeal was allowed but the local authority applied to the High Court on the basis that the inspector had misinterpreted green belt guidance related to the now superseded “institutions in extensive grounds” policy in PPG2 as interpreted in structure plan policy. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the High Court (Tandridge 13/1/95 DCS No 054-466-888) Tandridge D.C. v S.O.S. & Another 29/1/97.
The diocese of Rochester sought permission for a new rectory in the village of Penshurst, Kent despite the location of the site in a green belt, in the Kent Downs AONB and a local conservation area. The proposal involved adding to a sensitive group of buildings seen to be the defining group in the village, all of which were listed and, with the exception of the existing rectory, within a Grade 1 Park and Garden of Historic Interest. The existing rectory imposed unrealistic demands on the modest stipend of an incumbent and the diocese and current need for the repairs and refurbishment led to the ecclesiastical authorities resolving that it be sold and a more modest replacement, constructed.The appellant considered that Canon Law was a material consideration and that it required the provision of a dwelling in every parish. This, coupled with the nature of the existing rectory, was advanced as the very special circumstances to justify permission. An inspector judged that there were two main issues upon which his decision turned. Firstly whether the development represented an inappropriate form of development in the green belt, and, if so, whether there were any very special circumstances that would justify allowing it nonetheless. Secondly whether the impact of the proposal on the conservation area and various listed buildings associated, would be acceptable. A local plan incorporated a policy related to places of worship that stated among other things that parsonages might be accepted at smaller settlements, though in the green belt local social need had to be demonstrated in the absence of suitable alternative locations or premises. The existing rectory was a substantial dwelling evocative of the lifestyles of the eighteenth century and disproportionate to what was now considered to be appropriate for a minister in the modern day, established church. The inspector rejected the council’s view that consideration could be given to altering and subdividing the existing building. Bearing in mind its character and listed status he considered this to be impracticable and that it should remain as a large family dwelling. He also felt satisfied that he could attach little weight to the possibility of a house, suitable as a parsonage, being found elsewhere in the benefice. In regard to the various concerns arising from visual impact, the siting was sufficiently screened or in context to be acceptable such that there would be no overriding harm to the setting of the listed buildings, the conservation area or openness of the green belt. In particular he attached considerable weight to the argument that it was desirable for the church’s ministry to be progressed by a minister living close to the church in the village. This relationship had continued for at least 300 years and for it not to continue would detract very considerably from the character of the conservation area.In concluding that the development was acceptable for the special circumstance of the ecclesiastical need the inspector imposed an occupancy condition tying the property to the incumbent of the benefice. (Sevenoaks 03/01/02 DCS No 034-680-395).
At care uses 9.2325
The re-building of a former blacksmiths workshop associated with a nursing home occupying a grade II listed building in the green belt was allowed to proceed after an inspector decided that very special circumstances had been demonstrated by the appellant. Planning permission and listed building consent were sought to allow the outbuilding to be used as staff accommodation. However the building had almost completely collapsed and the council claimed that its rebuilding involved an inappropriate form of development in the green belt which undermined the openness of the area and harmed the character of both the listed building and the conservation area within which it stood. The appellant claimed that the nursing home employed approximately 50 people, seven of whom lived on site. He stated that the high house prices limited the ability of staff to live close to the establishment and the conversion would allow those working unsocial shift patterns to be housed on site.
The inspector decided that the proposed rebuilding would enhance the character of the listed building by replicating the scale and simple character of the original structure while providing a practical use for an otherwise abandoned corner of the nursing home grounds. By providing much-needed accommodation it would also improve the viability of the nursing home, he opined, thereby ensuring the long term security of the listed building itself and enhancing the character of the conservation area. Moreover, he decided that it would have no greater impact on the openness of the green belt and taken as a whole these amounted to very special circumstances justifying him allowing the appeals. (Wyre Forest 25/09/06 DCS No 100-044-875)
Wyre Forest: staff accommodation allowed at green belt care home
A staff dwelling and training room at a grade II listed nursing home in an Area of Great Landscape Value was rejected, an inspector finding that there were no special circumstances to justify the intrusion into the AGLV and the wooded setting of the listed building.(Wyre Forest 15/12/00 DCS No 034-543-891)
A manager’s dwelling was required in the grounds of a green belt residential home. At present the only residential accommodation was a flat in the roof occupied by the appellant’s elderly parents who found it difficult to provide the necessary strength of cover. An inspector would not accept that there was a need for the proprietor to live on site, given the wide range of dwellings available in a nearby village. There were no exceptional circumstances warranting a departure from green belt policy (Bradford 6/5/88 DCS No 049-130-477).
At retail uses/garden centres 9.2326
Where garden centres are allied to horticultural nurseries, a dwelling may be justified on grounds of “agricultural need” (see 9.3), but in the case of establishments mainly engaged in the retail sale of plants and garden goods, and other shops in rural areas, it may be difficult to show justification for a dwelling. Cases are rare as rural retail uses have usually grown out of, or are a diversification of, an agricultural use.
Thus a dwelling, in the form of a farmhouse, is normally present.
At kennels and catteries 9.2327
The law requires that a kennel/cattery use has a residential presence (see 23.115), and therefore it is unusual for a dwelling to be requested after the inception of such a use. The matter is more likely to arise in enforcement or second dwelling cases. The following cases illustrate some of the issues that can arise.
A dwelling was proposed to serve an existing cattery in the countryside. The appellant’s claim that it was necessary to live within sight and sound of the business was rejected by the inspector who held that a parallel with the tests laid down in PPG7 on the countryside were not met. It would erode the spaciousness of the countryside in a designated mature landscape area. New dwellings were not permitted in the countryside unless they served a genuine agricultural need. Since it was not essential for a cattery to be located in a rural area, there was no compelling case particularly as insufficient evidence had been submitted to satisfy the functional and financial tests laid down in PPG7. (Newark 13/02/01 DCS No 033-191-881)
A dwelling in the New Forest was proposed to support an existing boarding kennels and cattery use. The inspector observed that there was an existing cottage on site which was currently occupied by the appellants. Whether the use was more appropriate to a rural area was in the inspector’s view of little weight given that it existed on the basis of previous grants of permission and therefore countryside policies of restraint applied. The inspector held that a new dwelling could only be justified on the basis of the needs of the enterprise rather than meeting the convenience of the operators. Other matters should be assessed first including the management regime, the separation of business and domestic floorspace in the cottage or adaptation of other buildings to provide night watchman facilities. Permission was granted only for the provision of seven visitor car parking spaces. (New Forest 09/02/01 DCS No 038-474-647)
An enforcement notice was served relating to a caravan at a green belt cattery. An inspector observed that the caravan was inappropriate and would cause green belt harm. An essential need argument was rejected, as an inspector felt that catteries did not need to be in a rural area. He noted that it was the appellant’s own decision to buy a cattery with no residential accommodation, knowing that residential presence was a requirement for a licence (Wigan M.B.C. 31/1/97 055-554-816).
See also (9.3344) for discussion of the situation which arises when other accommodation is available at the unit or nearby.
At sports/leisure uses 9.2328
The erection of a dwelling linked to an established golf club in Hampshire was refused permission despite claims by the club that it was necessary to house a manager or steward.The appellant claimed that the club house was increasingly used for social events including banquets and receptions. He stated that he and his family lived within an existing dwelling adjacent to the club house and the intention was to secure permission for a new dwelling for his family thereby allowing the existing bungalow to be occupied by a manager or steward. He claimed that there were difficulties in retaining high quality staff to work at the club which often involved long and unsociable hours. The inspector accepted that this was a material consideration. However there appeared to be no overriding reason for a manager or steward to remain on the premises at night. Although there had been some vandalism at the club a new CCTV system had been installed and there had been no further incidents. Moreover, he noted that there were a number of former farm buildings within the club’s ownership which appeared to be capable of being converted to residential use. This would be preferable to erecting a new dwelling in the countryside, he opined, and dismissed the appeal. (Test Valley 21/03/07 DCS No. 100-047-989)
A new dwelling for the manager of a golf driving range in North Yorkshire was rejected because it would be contrary to the thrust of policies restricting development in the countryside.The appellant contended that there was an essential need for a worker to be present on the site because the range had numerous problems with security, resulting particularly in the theft of 10-15,000 golf balls in fourteen years. The balls were collected each morning on a specially adapted tractor so as not to disturb local residents late at night. An inspector noted that only one dwelling had been the source of complaints about noise. It seemed to him that balls could be collected at night by hand in the area nearest to the house, using the tractor for the rest of the range, also at night. Even if that could not be done he noted that Annex A to PPS7 made clear that security needs were not by themselves sufficient to justify a dwelling. Further, the council said that it was a consideration in granting permission for the range in 1991 that the site owners lived in the existing house adjoining the site (Craven 15/02/07 DCS No. 100-047-534)
Two appeals seeking stables with accommodation for grooms above together with five holiday units on part of a site were dismissed. The appellant operated a showground for horses, holding various events during the year. After receiving planning permission to erect 48 stables in two buildings, the appellant erected a large building with space in the roof for two grooms. The council issued an enforcement notice alleging that the building did not comply with the planning permission and requiring its removal. The inspector decided that provided six dormer roof lights were removed, the stable building could remain. In addition because it was of substantial construction the use of part of the roof space for grooms to look after the stabled horses was acceptable. However, there was no need for additional accommodation on site, he opined, and in the absence of a special justification for allowing permanent holiday accommodation in the countryside the remaining appeals had to fail, he concluded. (North Dorset 17/01/07 DCS No. 100-046-711).
The erection of a new clubhouse with manager’s accommodation at a skeet and trap club in the countryside was refused because insufficient justification had been provided by the appellants. The appellants claimed that the existing clubhouse was subject to frequent break-ins leading to the loss of equipment and vehicles. Additional security measures had been taken. However they claimed that the only effective way to reduce the incidents was to permit a manager to live on site in a three bedroom house. The inspector noted that no guns were stored within the existing clubhouse although people intent on breaking into the building, might be under the impression that weapons were stored on site. He decided that a new clubhouse could be designed to be more secure and resistant to vandalism and damage. Consequently he concluded that the need to reduce crime did not override local and national planning policies which sought to resist new housing in the countryside. With regard to the site’s location within a flood plain, he decided that although a new clubhouse would be acceptable, the introduction of a residential use, could potentially put peoples’ lives at risk and place extra strain on emergency services. This was an additional reason for refusing permission, he determined. (Mendip 07/07/05 DCS No 100-037-956).
In (East Dorset 14/04/99 DCS No.041-575-731) a mobile home for a naturist club was rejected. An enforcement notice required the removal of the residential mobile home within the club and which was occupied by a caretaker. It was found to be harmful to an AGLV. An inspector decided that there appeared to be no need for a permanent residence on site even though the facilities required to be maintained.
A dwelling was requested at a canal centre in Leicestershire. The appellant lived in a house at the site and there was a staff flat over a pub which formed part of the complex. It was agreed that the use supported local tourism and was an appropriate rural activity, but an inspector was not convinced that there was a need for a dwelling at the centre based on the argument that additional residential staff were required to be able to respond to sudden influxes of customers. A need for improved security was also rejected due to the existing dwellings on site (Harborough 5/8/97 DCS No. 048-087-395).
The restoration of a mill to be used for the display of milling machinery was proposed. In addition an extension to form a dwelling was requested. The S.O.S. considered that the construction of a separate dwelling would normally be a clear breach of green belt policy, but agreed with the council that residential use could be allowed as a very special circumstance because of the desirability of achieving the restoration. A condition was applied ensuring that the works to the mill were completed before residential occupation (Vale Royal 23/9/88 045-819-049).
A bungalow was required for a fishing lake manager. The site was a former reservoir on the edge of a built up area. An inspector considered that this was not a viable commercial enterprise, and the management of it did not justify a dwelling. There would be harm to an important rural gap and the pleasant setting of the reservoir. Housing was available in an estate close by the appeal site (Chesterfield 28/4/88 049-431-041).
An entrance lodge at an AONB yacht centre was the subject of an appeal. A security/control need was advanced which an inspector accepted as an exceptional circumstance (Purbeck 22/9/87 030-738-680).
A larger dwelling was required at a permanent clay pigeon shoot. A security need had been recognised by the local authority in that a single storey dwelling of 120sq.m. had been permitted. A4 bedroom chalet of 210sq.m. was now proposed which the local authority argued was excessive to serve its security function. An inspector noted that it was not unreasonable for the owner to wish to live with his family close to the facilities. There would be no serious harm to the landscape from the enlarged dwelling (Dacorum 9/10/91 042-038-773).
At large houses/domestic staff 9.2329
The owners of large houses with grounds occasionally request planning permission for separate staff dwellings for domestic servants, gardeners, gatekeepers etc. In such cases the planning debate centres on the reasonable needs of the owners of such houses to accommodate key staff on site, set against rural restraint policies and the inherent difficulties of ensuring that if such dwellings are allowed they will not be severed at a later date and sold on the open market.
The following cases illustrate some of the situations which have emerged over the years.
A proposal for a lodge in the grounds of a large house was refused on appeal but the decision was remitted on the basis that the inspector had failed to have regard to the need for on-site supervision and the impracticability of providing accommodation for a caretaker in the main house. On re-examination of the matter a second inspector found that the security needs of the property, disregarding its intermittent occupation, were no more than many other similar isolated houses in the countryside John Taylor v S.O.S. for Wales & Glyndwr D.C. 2 1/9/84 (Glyndwr 20/6/85 DCS No. 030-657-204).
A new gatehouse at a listed mansion was proposed. The appellant was a member of the Saudi Royal family, and special security needs were argued. An inspector noted the high quality of the house and its setting, and the discreet siting of the building proposed. He concluded that no precedent would be created and the security needs of the appellant should not prevail over countryside protection policies (Bracknell 12/8/83 DCS No. 036-016-469).
A dwelling for a gardener was proposed in the grounds of a large house. An inspector felt that although horticultural need had not been clearly justified, the case for a dwelling in the form of a gate lodge was reasonable. Its location and design would not render it intrusive. This case was notable for the plea put in by the appellant that the duties of the gardeners would involve tending a vine at unsocial hours! (Brecknock 4/8/87 DCS No. 040-902-848).
A “service cottage” was required in the grounds of a large house. This was intended for a couple who would attend to the maintenance and security of the house. An inspector did not find these arguments conclusive as the proposed siting was so far from the house, away from its vulnerable boundaries. Discounting the security plea the needs of the house could be served by staff living within reasonable distance (South Wight 27/10/87 056-235-935).
A staff lodge was proposed at the entrance to a large house. Although close to the edge of a village the site was in open countryside for policy purposes. It was argued that the building would be a traditional feature necessary for security and day to day running of the hall. An inspector noted that the size of the building was equivalent to a substantial family home, but agreed that the separation of key staff away from the main building would not succeed in meeting its operational needs. The appeal was allowed with an occupancy condition. (Harrogate 3/4/95 DCS No. 042-584-537).
A court case of relevance is John Charles Hayter v SOS and Winchester City Council 21/02/03. The applicant in this case had applied for permission to erect a dwelling in the garden of his house. He sought to have the inspector’s decision to dismiss his appeal against the council’s decision to refuse the application quashed. He contended that because the inspector had only had copies of parts of the relevant proposals map and an inset plan, there was no proper evidence that countryside policies applied. The judge found his case to be unarguable. He found that there was no doubt that the proposal map and the insets in the local plan showed quite clearly that countryside policies applied outside the boundary of the inset. That the inspector had copies only of the relevant portions could not mean that he had to disregard reality.