Planning Policy Guidance 2: Green belts
On 5th May 2006 the responsibilities of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) transferred to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Department for Communities and Local Government Eland House Bressenden Place London SW1E 5DU
Telephone: 020 7944 4400 Website: www.communities.gov.uk
Planning Policy Guidance 2 (PPG2) outlines the history and extent of Green Belts and explains their purposes. It describes how Green Belts are designated and their land safeguarded. Green Belt land-use objectives are outlined and the presumption against inappropriate development is set out.
Foreword 1. Introduction 2. Designation Of Green Belts 3. Control Over Development 4. Cancellation Of Advice Annex A Annex B Annex C Annex D Annex E
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Planning Policy Guidance notes (PPGs) set out the Government’s policies on different aspects of planning. Local planning authorities must take their content into account in preparing their development plans. The guidance may also be material to decisions on individual planning applications and appeals.
This PPG replaces the 1988 version of PPG2, and advice in Circulars. It:
␣ states the general intentions of Green Belt policy, including its contribution to sustainable development objectives;
␣ reaffirms the specific purposes of including land in Green Belts, with slight modifications; ␣ gives policy a more positive thrust by specifying for the first time objectives for the use of
land in Green Belts;
␣ confirms that Green Belts must be protected as far as can be seen ahead, advises on defining boundaries and on safeguarding land for longer-term development needs; and
␣ maintains the presumption against inappropriate development within Green Belts and refines the categories of appropriate development, including making provision for the future of major existing developed sites and revising policy on the re-use of buildings.
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1.1 The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts, which have been an essential element of planning policy for some four decades. The purposes of Green Belt policy and the related development control policies set out in 1955 remain valid today with remarkably little alteration.
1.2 The first official proposal “to provide a reserve supply of public open spaces and of recreational areas and to establish a green belt or girdle of open space” was made by the Greater London Regional Planning Committee in 1935. New provisions for compensation in the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act allowed local authorities to incorporate green belt proposals in their first development plans. The codification of Green Belt policy and its extension to areas other than London came in 1955 with an historic circular inviting local planning authorities to consider the establishment of Green Belts.
1.3 The Green Belts approved through structure plans now cover approximately 1,556,000 hectares, about 12 per cent of England. There are 14 separate Green Belts, varying in size from 486,000 hectares around London to just 700 hectares at Burton-on-Trent. “The general extent and location of the designated areas are given in the table and map opposite.”
Intentions of policy
1.4 The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the most important attribute of Green Belts is their openness. Green Belts can shape patterns of urban development at sub-regional and regional scale, and help to ensure that development occurs in locations allocated in development plans. They help to protect the countryside, be it in agricultural, forestry or other use. They can assist in moving towards more sustainable patterns of urban development (see paragraph 2.10).
Purposes of including land in Green Belts
1.5 There are five purposes of including land in Green Belts:
␣ to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
␣ to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
␣ to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
␣ to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
␣ to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
The use of land in Green Belts
1.6 Once Green Belts have been defined, the use of land in them has a positive role to play in fulfilling the following objectives:
␣ to provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population; ␣ to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas; ␣ to retain attractive landscapes, and enhance landscapes, near to where people live; ␣ to improve damaged and derelict land around towns;
␣ to secure nature conservation interest; and ␣ to retain land in agricultural, forestry and related uses.
1.7 The extent to which the use of land fulfils these objectives is however not itself a material factor in the inclusion of land within a Green Belt, or in its continued protection. For example, although Green Belts often contain areas of attractive landscape, the quality of the landscape is not relevant to the inclusion of land within a Green Belt or to its continued protection. The purposes of including land in Green Belts are of paramount importance to their continued protection, and should take precedence over the land use objectives.
2. Designation Of Green Belts
2.1 The essential characteristic of Green Belts is their permanence. Their protection must be maintained as far as can be seen ahead.
Regional guidance and development plans
2.2 Regional and strategic planning guidance set the framework for Green Belt policy and settlement policy, including the direction of long-term development. Regional guidance focuses on issues which are of regional importance or which need to be considered on a wider geographical basis than that of individual structure plans. Strategic guidance performs a similar role in metropolitan areas.
2.3 Green Belts are established through development plans. Structure plans provide the strategic policy context for planning at local level. The general extent of Green Belts has been fixed through the approval of structure plans.
2.4 Many detailed Green Belt boundaries have been set in local plans and in old development plans, but in some areas detailed boundaries have not yet been defined. Up-to-date approved boundaries are essential, to provide certainty as to where Green Belt policies do and do not apply and to enable the proper consideration of future development options. The mandatory requirement for district-wide local plans, introduced by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991, will ensure that the definition of detailed boundaries is completed.
2.5 In metropolitan areas, unitary development plans (UDPs) perform the functions of structure and local plans.
2.6 Once the general extent of a Green Belt has been approved it should be altered only in exceptional circumstances. If such an alteration is proposed the Secretary of State will wish to be satisfied that the authority has considered opportunities for development within the urban areas contained by and beyond the Green Belt. Similarly, detailed Green Belt boundaries defined in adopted local plans or earlier approved development plans should be altered only exceptionally. Detailed boundaries should not be altered or development allowed merely because the land has become derelict.
2.7 Where existing local plans are being revised and updated, existing Green Belt boundaries should not be changed unless alterations to the structure plan have been approved, or other exceptional circumstances exist, which necessitate such revision.
2.8 Where detailed Green Belt boundaries have not yet been defined, it is necessary to establish boundaries that will endure. They should be carefully drawn so as not to include land which it is unnecessary to keep permanently open. Otherwise there is a risk that encroachment on the Green Belt may have to be allowed in order to accommodate future development. If boundaries are drawn excessively tightly around existing built-up areas it may not be possible to maintain the degree of permanence that Green Belts should have. This would devalue the concept of the Green Belt and reduce the value of local plans in making proper provision for
necessary development in the future.
2.9 Wherever practicable a Green Belt should be several miles wide, so as to ensure an appreciable open zone all round the built-up area concerned. Boundaries should be clearly defined, using readily recognisable features such as roads, streams, belts of trees or woodland edges where possible. Well-defined long-term Green Belt boundaries help to ensure the future agricultural, recreational and amenity value of Green Belt land, whereas less secure boundaries would make it more difficult for farmers and other landowners to maintain and improve their land. Further advice on land management is in Annex A.
2.10 When drawing Green Belt boundaries in development plans local planning authorities should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development. They should consider the consequences for sustainable development (for example in terms of the effects on car travel) of channelling development towards urban areas inside the inner Green Belt boundary, towards towns and villages inset within the Green Belt, or towards locations beyond the outer Green Belt boundary.
2.11 Guidance on the treatment of existing villages in Green Belts is given in the box below. The advice on affordable housing in paragraph 3.4 is also relevant.
Development plans should treat existing villages in Green Belt areas in one of the following ways.
If it is proposed to allow no new building beyond the categories in the first three indents of paragraph 3.4, the village should be included within the Green Belt. The Green Belt notation should be carried across (“washed over”) it.
If infilling only is proposed, the village should either be “washed over” and listed in the development plan or should be inset (that is, excluded from the Green Belt). The local plan should include policies to ensure that any infill does not have an adverse effect on the character of the village concerned. If the village is washed over, the local plan may need to define infill boundaries to avoid dispute over whether particular sites are covered by infill policies.
If limited development (more than infilling) or limited expansion is proposed, the village should be inset. Development control policies for such settlements should be included in the local plan.
2.12 When local planning authorities prepare new or revised structure and local plans, any proposals affecting Green Belts should be related to a time-scale which is longer than that normally adopted for other aspects of the plan. They should satisfy themselves that Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered at the end of the plan period. In order to ensure protection of Green Belts within this longer timescale, 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. Regional/strategic guidance should provide a strategic framework for considering this issue. In preparing and reviewing their development plans authorities should address the possible need to provide safeguarded land. They should consider the broad location of anticipated development beyond the plan period, its effects on urban areas contained by the Green Belt and on areas beyond it, and its implications for sustainable development. In non-metropolitan areas these questions should in the first instance be addressed in the structure plan, which should where necessary indicate a general area where local plans should identify safeguarded land.
2.13 Annex B gives further advice on safeguarded land, which is sometimes known as “white land”.
New Green Belts
2.14 Proposals for new Green Belts should be considered through the Regional/Strategic Guidance or Structure Plan process in the first instance. If a local planning authority proposes to establish a new Green Belt, it should demonstrate why normal planning and development control policies would not be adequate, and whether any major changes in circumstances have made the adoption of this exceptional measure necessary. It should also show what the consequences of the proposal would be for sustainable development.
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3. Control Over Development
Presumption against inappropriate development
3.1 The general policies controlling development in the countryside apply with equal force in Green Belts but there is, in addition, a general presumption against inappropriate development within them. Such development should not be approved, except in very special circumstances. See paragraphs 3.4, 3.8, 3.11 and 3.12 below as to development which is inappropriate.
3.2 Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt. It is for the applicant to show why permission should be granted. Very special circumstances to justify inappropriate development will not exist unless the harm by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations. In view of the presumption against inappropriate development, the Secretary of State will attach substantial weight to the harm to the Green Belt when considering any planning application or appeal concerning such development.
3.3 Green Belt policies in development plans should ensure that any planning applications for inappropriate development would not be in accord with the plan. These exceptional cases would thus be treated as departures from the development plan, to be referred to the Secretary of State under the Town and Country Planning (Development Plans and Consultation) Directions 1992 (see DOE Circular 19/92).
3.4 The construction of new buildings inside a Green Belt is inappropriate unless it is for the following purposes:
␣ agriculture and forestry (unless permitted development rights have been withdrawn – see paragraph D2 of Annex D);
␣ essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation, for cemeteries, and for other uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it (see paragraph 3.5 below);
␣ limited extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings (subject to paragraph 3.6 below);
␣ limited infilling in existing villages (under the circumstances described in the box following paragraph 2.11), and limited affordable housing for local community needs under development plan policies according with PPG3 (see Annex E, and the box following paragraph 2.11); or
␣ limited infilling or redevelopment of major existing developed sites identified in adopted local plans, which meets the criteria in paragraph C3 or C4 of Annex C1.
3.5 Essential facilities (see second indent of paragraph 3.4) should be genuinely required for
uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it. Possible examples of such facilities include small changing rooms or unobtrusive spectator accommodation for outdoor sport, or small stables for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation.
3.6 Provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building, the extension or alteration of dwellings is not inappropriate in Green Belts. The replacement of existing dwellings need not be inappropriate, providing the new dwelling is not materially larger than the dwelling it replaces. Development plans should make clear the approach local planning authorities will take, including the circumstances (if any) under which replacement dwellings are acceptable.
Re-use of buildings
3.7 With suitable safeguards, the re-use of buildings should not prejudice the openness of Green Belts, since the buildings are already there. It can help to secure the continuing stewardship of land, especially by assisting farmers in diversifying their enterprises, and may contribute to the objectives for the use of land in Green Belts. The alternative to re-use may be a building that is left vacant and prone to vandalism and dereliction.
3.8 The re-use of buildings inside a Green Belt is not inappropriate development providing: ␣ (a) it does not have a materially greater impact than the present use on the openness of
the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it;
␣ (b) strict control is exercised over the extension of re-used buildings, and over any associated uses of land surrounding the building which might conflict with the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it (eg because they involve extensive external storage, or extensive hardstanding, car parking, boundary walling or fencing);
␣ (c) the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction, and are capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction; and
␣ (d) the form, bulk and general design of the buildings are in keeping with their surroundings2. (Conversion proposals may be more acceptable if they respect local building styles and materials, though the use of equivalent natural materials that are not local should not be ruled out).
3.9 If a proposal for the re-use of a building in the Green Belt does not meet the criteria in paragraph 3.8, or there are other specific and convincing planning reasons for refusal (for example on environmental or traffic grounds), the local planning authority should not reject the proposal without considering whether, by imposing reasonable conditions, any objections could be overcome. It should not normally be necessary to consider whether the building is no longer needed for its present agricultural or other purposes3. Evidence that the building is not redundant in its present use is not by itself sufficient grounds for refusing permission for a proposed new use.
3.10 Local planning authorities should include in their development plans policies for the re-use
of buildings in Green Belts, having regard to the advice above and in Annex D of this PPG.
Mining operations, and other development
3.11 Minerals can be worked only where they are found. Their extraction is a temporary activity. Mineral extraction need not be inappropriate development: it need not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belts, provided that high environmental standards are maintained and that the site is well restored. Mineral and local planning authorities should include appropriate policies in their development plans. Mineral planning authorities should ensure that planning conditions for mineral working sites within Green Belts achieve suitable environmental standards and restoration. Relevant advice is in MPG2 and MPG7. Paragraph 3.13 below is also relevant to mineral extraction.
3.12 The statutory definition of development includes engineering and other operations, and the making of any material change in the use of land. The carrying out of such operations and the making of material changes in the use of land are inappropriate development unless they maintain openness and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in the Green Belt. (Advice on material changes in the use of buildings is given in paragraph 3.8 above).
Land use objectives
3.13 When any large-scale development or redevelopment of land occurs in the Green Belt (including mineral extraction, the tipping of waste, and road and other infrastructure developments or improvements), it should, so far as possible contribute to the achievement of the objectives for the use of land in Green Belts (see paragraph 1.6). This approach applies to large-scale developments irrespective of whether they are appropriate development4, or inappropriate development which is justified by very special circumstances. Development plans should make clear the local planning authority’s intended approach.
3.14 Planning obligations may be used to offset the loss of or impact on any amenity present on a site prior to development (see DoE Circular 16/91). In the case where amenity on a site adjacent to the Green Belt is lost as a result of development on that site, it may be reasonable for obligations to provide for offsetting benefits on land in the Green Belt, as long as there is a direct relationship between the two sites.
3.15 The visual amenities of the Green Belt should not be injured by proposals for development within or conspicuous from the Green Belt which, although they would not prejudice the purposes of including land in Green Belts, might be visually detrimental by reason of their siting, materials or design.
3.16 Community Forests offer valuable opportunities for improving the environment around towns, by upgrading the landscape and providing for recreation and wildlife. An approved Community Forest plan may be a material consideration in preparing development plans and in deciding planning applications. Any development proposals within Community Forests in the Green Belt should be subject to the normal policies controlling development in Green Belts,
and should respect the woodland setting.
This PPG was amended with effect from 27 March 2001 by Annex E of PPG13 (Transport) which inserted new paragraphs 3.17-3.20 as below:
Park and ride
3.17 The countryside immediately around urban areas will often be the preferred location for park and ride schemes. In many instances, such land may be designated as Green Belt. The Governments commitment to maintaining the openness of the Green Belt means that when seeking to locate park and ride development, non-Green Belt alternatives should be investigated first. However, there may be cases where a Green Belt location is the most sustainable of the available options. Park and ride development is not inappropriate in Green Belts, provided that:
␣ (a) a thorough and comprehensive assessment of potential sites has been carried out, including both non-Green Belt and, if appropriate, other Green Belt locations, having regard to sustainable development objectives, and the need to be flexible about size and layout;
␣ (b) the assessment establishes that the proposed green belt site is the most sustainable option taking account of all relevant factors including travel impacts;
␣ (c) the scheme will not seriously compromise the purposes of including land in Green Belts, as set out in paragraph 1.5;
␣ (d) the proposal is contained within the local transport plan (or in Greater London the Local Implementation Plan) and based on a thorough assessment of travel impacts; and
␣ (e) new or re-used buildings are included within the development proposal only for essential facilities associated with the operation of the park and ride scheme.
3.18 For larger-scale schemes local planning authorities must give particular attention to sub- paragraph (c) above. All the criteria in paragraph 3.17 should also be applied when considering proposals for expansion of existing sites. Approval of park and ride development in a particular location does not create any presumption in favour of future expansion of that site. All proposals must be considered on their merits.
3.19 In all cases, the layout, design and landscaping of the scheme must preserve, so far as possible, the openness and visual amenity of the Green Belt. Particular care will be needed on matters, such as floodlighting, which are essential to the safe operation of park and ride schemes but which may be visually intrusive unless carefully designed. Local authorities should make full use of planning conditions or obligations see paragraph 3.14 and Circulars 11/95 and 1/97.
3.20 Park and ride development which does not satisfy the criteria in paragraph 3.17 should be not be approved except in very special circumstances see paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3, and
1 See also the transitional provision of paragraph C14 regarding redundant hospital sites and paragraph C17 regarding higher and further education establishments not identified in adopted local plans.
2 If a planning application is submitted for the re-use of a building which the local planning authority considers has a significant adverse effect on the landscape in terms of visual amenity, it may be appropriate in connection with any proposed structural changes to impose conditions to secure an improvement in the external appearance of the building.
3 In the case of a tenanted agricultural building, the value in planning terms of the existing use should however be taken into consideration.
4 But see paragraph C4 of Annex C regarding the redevelopment of major developed sites.
4. Cancellation Of Advice
4.1 The following advice is hereby cancelled:
␣ PPG2 (January 1988); ␣ paragraphs 1-3 of Annex D to PPG12 (February 1992); ␣ paragraph 34 of PPG17 (September 1991), except the first sentence; ␣ DOE Circular 12/91; ␣ DOE Circular 14/84, including the Annex reproducing MHLG Circulars 42/55 and 50/57.
A1 Local authorities can assist landowners in maintaining and improving their land by working together with them, with voluntary organisations including Groundwork Trusts, and with statutory bodies such as the Countryside Commission, the Forestry Commission, and (where significant areas of derelict or vacant land are involved) English Partnerships. The aim should be to enhance the countryside, and especially those areas of land within the Green Belt or adjacent to it, which are suffering from disuse or neglect.
A2 This is particularly important in areas that are close to existing urban development, or within conurbations, and which can be especially vulnerable to neglect or damage. They may come under intense pressure for development, and if so need to be protected and maintained. But in considering whether to include such areas of land within the Green Belt, where detailed boundaries have not yet been established, authorities should also consider carefully whether the land should be better reserved for future development and thus ease the pressure on other land that should have the long-term protection of the Green Belt. The overall aim should be to develop and maintain a positive approach to land management which both makes adequate provision for necessary development and ensures that the Green Belt serves its proper purpose.
Safeguarded Land B1 This guidance supplements that in paragraph 2.12, and should be read in conjunction with
Identifying safeguarded land
B2 Safeguarded land comprises areas and sites which may be required to serve development needs in the longer term, i.e. well beyond the plan period. It should be genuinely capable of development when needed.
B3 Safeguarded land should be located where future development would be an efficient use of land, well integrated with existing development, and well related to public transport and other existing and planned infrastructure, so promoting sustainable development.
B4 In identifying safeguarded land local planning authorities should take account of the advice on housing in PPG3 and on transport in PPG13. They should also have regard to environmental and landscape quality (so far as is consistent with paragraph 1.7 of this PPG); to the contribution which future redevelopment might make to remedying urban fringe problems, producing attractive, well-landscaped urban edges; and to the advice in PPG7 on protecting the best agricultural land.
Development control policies
B5 Development plans should state clearly the policies applying to safeguarded land over the period covered by the plan. They should make clear that the land is not allocated for development at the present time, and keep it free to fulfil its purpose of meeting possible longer-term development needs. No development which would prejudice later comprehensive development should be permitted (though temporary developments may assist in ensuring that the land is properly looked after). Valuable landscape and wildlife features and existing access for recreation should be protected.
B6 Development plan policies should provide that planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a local plan or UDP review which proposes the development of particular areas of safeguarded land. Making safeguarded land available for permanent development in other circumstances would thus be a departure from the plan.
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Future Of Major Developed Sites In The Green Belt
C1 Green Belts contain some major developed sites such as factories, collieries, power stations, water and sewage treatment works, military establishments, civil airfields, hospitals, and research and education establishments. These substantial sites may be in continuing use or be redundant. They often pre-date the town and country planning system and the Green Belt designation.
C2 These sites remain subject to development control policies for Green Belts, and the Green Belt notation should be carried across them. If a major developed site is specifically identified for the purposes of this Annex in an adopted local plan or UDP, infilling or redevelopment which meets the criteria in paragraph C3 or C4 is not inappropriate development. In this context, infilling means the filling of small gaps between built development.
C3 Limited infilling at major developed sites in continuing use may help to secure jobs and prosperity without further prejudicing the Green Belt. Where this is so, local planning authorities may in their development plans identify the site, defining the boundary of the present extent of development and setting out a policy for limited infilling for the continuing use within this boundary. Such infilling should:
␣ (a) have no greater impact on the purposes of including land in the Green Belt (paragraph 1.5) than the existing development;
␣ (b) not exceed the height of the existing buildings; and ␣ (c) not lead to a major increase in the developed proportion of the site.
C4 Whether they are redundant or in continuing use, the complete or partial redevelopment of major developed sites may offer the opportunity for environmental improvement without adding to their impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land within it. Where this is the case, local planning authorities may in their development plans identify the site, setting out a policy for its future redevelopment. They should consider preparing a site brief. Redevelopment should :
␣ (a) have no greater impact than the existing development on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it, and where possible have less;
␣ (b) contribute to the achievement of the objectives for the use of land in Green Belts (paragraph 1.6 – see also paragraph 3.13);
␣ (c) not exceed the height of the existing buildings; and ␣ (d) not occupy a larger area of the site than the existing buildings (unless this would
achieve a reduction in height which would benefit visual amenity).
C5 The relevant area for the purposes of (d) is the aggregate ground floor area of the existing buildings (the “footprint”), excluding temporary buildings, open spaces with direct external access between wings of a building, and areas of hardstanding.
C6 The character and dispersal of proposed redevelopment will need to be considered as well as its footprint. For example many houses may together have a much smaller footprint than a few large buildings, but may be unacceptable because their dispersal over a large part of the site and enclosed gardens may have an adverse impact on the character of the Green Belt compared with the current development. The location of the new buildings should be decided having regard to the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it, the objectives for the use of land in Green Belts, the main features of the landscape, and the need to integrate the new development with its surroundings. For instance it may be more appropriate to site new development closer to existing buildings.
C7 The site should be considered as a whole, whether or not all the buildings are to be redeveloped. The test of area in paragraph C5 relates to the redevelopment of the entire site; any proposals for partial redevelopment should be put forward in the context of comprehensive, long-term plans for the site as a whole.
C8 Proposals should be considered in the light of all material considerations, including for example visual amenity (see paragraph 3.15 of this PPG) and the traffic and travel implications of redevelopment (see PPG13).
C9 Where buildings are demolished rather than being left in a semi-derelict state pending decisions about their redevelopment, it will be necessary to keep suitable records for the purposes of paragraph C5. These should be agreed between the local planning authority and the landowner.
C10 In granting any planning permission local authorities may wish to consider whether to impose conditions to ensure that buildings which are not to be retained permanently are demolished as new buildings are erected, thus keeping the total developed area under control.
Architectural and historic interest
C11 Suitable re-use is to be preferred to redevelopment where the buildings are of architectural or historic interest. Any proposals for altering or demolishing listed buildings or which affect their settings should be considered in the light of the advice in Planning Policy Guidance 15: Planning and the Historic Environment.
C12 Local planning authorities should have regard to the desirability of preserving gardens and grounds of special historic interest. The English Heritage register of historic gardens lists sites of particular importance (see PPG15).
C13 Redevelopment should not normally require additional expenditure by the public sector on the provision of infrastructure, nor should it overload local facilities such as schools and health care facilities. Local planning authorities should take account of any additional infrastructure requirements (eg roads) which may have significant adverse effects on the Green Belt. Adequate financial provision should where necessary be made for the future maintenance of landscaped areas (taking account of advice in DoE Circular 16/91, Planning Obligations).
C14 The special position of redundant hospitals in Green Belts was recognised in DoE Circular 12/91 and earlier advice. That Circular is cancelled by this PPG; hospitals are covered by this Annex. As a transitional measure, pending the next local plan or UDP review, the redevelopment of redundant hospital sites which are not identified in development plans but meet the criteria in paragraph C4 above is not inappropriate development.
Higher and further education establishments
C15 Previous policy allowed “institutions standing in extensive grounds” to undertake new development, because such institutions pre-dated Green Belt policy. It was unclear how much new development was permitted. More recently this provision has been used to press for wholly new development on a scale that is inappropriate in the Green Belt. This revision of PPG2 makes it clear that development by institutions is subject to the same controls as other development in the Green Belt.
C16 It is however Government policy to encourage more people to undertake higher and further education (HFE). There has been a large increase in student numbers and further increases can be expected. The lack of a reasonable alternative site outside the Green Belt (whether within the urban area or elsewhere) for the proposed expansion of an HFE establishment located in or adjacent to the Green Belt should be taken into account in preparing or reviewing a development plan. Green Belt boundaries should be altered only in exceptional circumstances, after consideration of development opportunities within urban areas. Local planning authorities will wish to take an early opportunity to consult HFE establishments in or adjacent to the Green Belt about their development intentions. Plan preparation procedures provide opportunities for full public consultation on proposals to alter boundaries. Guidance on the timing of plan reviews is given in PPG12.
C17 Meanwhile, pending the next local plan or UDP review, the infilling or (partial or complete) redevelopment of HFE establishments on major sites in the Green Belt, which are not identified in development plans but otherwise meet the criteria in paragraph C3 or C4 of this Annex, is not inappropriate development. HFE establishments means: universities, colleges, schools and institutes of higher education; and establishments funded by the Further Education Funding Council for England, including colleges of further education, VI form colleges, and agricultural and horticultural colleges.
Re-Use Of Buildings – Additional Advice
D1 It is important to discourage abuse of permitted development rights. Local planning authorities should examine particularly carefully applications for re-use made within four years of the substantial completion of agricultural buildings erected under the General Development Order. This should alert them to the possibility that, when it was substantially completed, the building was in breach of planning control because there was no genuine agricultural justification.
D2 When granting permission for the use of agricultural buildings for non-agricultural purposes, local planning authorities should consider whether proliferation of farm buildings constructed under permitted development rights could have a seriously detrimental effect on the openness of the Green Belt. If so, they should consider whether it would be reasonable to attach a condition withdrawing these rights for new farm buildings in respect of that particular agricultural unit or holding. Such a condition should be used with great care, and must fairly and reasonably relate to the proposed development. While a restriction on additions to a particular group of farm buildings without specific permission might be reasonable, a restriction which sought to cover the whole of a large holding in connection with the re-use of a single building might well be unreasonable. Authorities should, where appropriate, include in their local plans a policy indicating the factors that they would take into account. If permitted development rights have been withdrawn, very special circumstances would need to be established for a new agricultural building to be permitted.
Residential conversions D3 The following advice from PPG7, The Countryside and the Rural Economy (January
1992), is relevant to the re-use of buildings in Green Belts for residential purposes.
“In some villages, the pressure to convert existing buildings to dwellings is great, and applications for a change of use may, if granted, lead to adverse effects on the local rural economy. The need to accommodate local commerce and industry may well be a material consideration in deciding such applications.” (Paragraph 2.13)
“Local planning authorities should examine applications for changes to residential use with particular care. The advice in paragraph D4 of PPG7, is often particularly relevant to such proposals. New housing in the open countryside is subject to strict control (paragraph 2.18 of PPG7); it may be appropriate to apply similar principles to proposals for the conversion of existing rural buildings to dwellings, especially where such buildings are unsuitable for conversion without extensive alteration, rebuilding and/or extension. Residential conversions can often have detrimental effects on the fabric and character of historic farm buildings. While new uses can frequently be the key to the preservation of historic buildings, it is important to ensure that the new use is sympathetic to the rural character. In addition, the creation of a residential curtilage around a newly converted building can sometimes have a harmful effect on the character of the countryside, especially in areas of high quality landscape, including
National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” (Paragraph D5)
“Residential conversions have a minimal impact on the rural economy. However conversions for holiday use can contribute more, and may reduce pressure to use other houses in the area for holiday use. Separate considerations apply to agricultural dwellings (see Annex E of PPG7)”. (Paragraph D6).
D4 If a building is listed, listed building consent may be needed for its conversion as well as planning permission (see PPG15).
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Further Guidance From Other PPGs And Circulars
Other PPGs and Circulars provide further guidance on Green Belt aspects of some specific types of development. Relevant passages are reproduced below.
Affordable Housing (from Annex A of PPG3, March 1992)
“11 This guidance does not alter the general presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belts. Green Belt policy remains as set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 2.
“12 Most Green Belt areas are by their nature close to the main conurbations, and conditions are not typical of the generality of rural areas to which this policy is addressed. Special considerations may, however, arise in some of the more extensive areas of Green Belt away from the urban fringe, particularly in areas where there are many small settlements and it may not be practicable or appropriate to define Green Belt boundaries around each one.
“13 In some of these areas local planning policies already recognise that very limited development within existing settlements may be acceptable and consistent with the function of the Green Belt. It is for local planning authorities to judge whether low cost housing development for local community needs would fall within the scope of such policies.
“14 The release, exceptionally, for small-scale, low cost housing schemes of other sites within existing settlements, which would not normally be considered for development under such policies, would again be a matter for the judgement of the planning authority, having regard to all material considerations, including the objectives of Green Belt policy and the evidence of local need.”
Motorway Service Areas (from Annex A of PPG13, March 1994)
“13 In Green Belts, there is a general presumption against inappropriate development. In line with PPG2, approval should not be given for an MSA within a Green Belt except in very special circumstances. One of the material considerations which could justify such an exception could be the lack of any signed MSAs. The greater the interval between the proposed site and any existing facility the more weight should be placed on the needs of motorway users. Developers should bear in mind the sensitive nature of Green Belt sites and avoid them where possible. Where no alternatives are readily available, developers will be expected to take great care to mitigate the likely impact of the development.”
All-seater Football League Stadia (from PPG17, September 1991)
“50 Because of the size of the structures involved, major football stadia cannot be regarded as appropriate development within an approved Green Belt. As PPG2 makes clear, very special circumstances would be needed to justify setting aside the general presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belts. It would be most unusual for a stadium proposal to meet those very special circumstances unless all other practicable options for location had been exhausted and other considerations had been fully addressed. A site for development as
large as a major football stadium should normally be identified in a local plan. It could be considered alongside any proposal for the adjustment of Green Belt boundaries. Such boundaries should be altered only in exceptional circumstances, after consideration of development opportunities within urban areas. The procedures for making and reviewing local plans provide opportunities for full public consultation on proposals to alter boundaries.”
Gypsy Sites (from paragraph 3 of DOE Circular 1/94)
“As a rule it will not be appropriate to make provision for gypsy sites in areas of open land where development is severely restricted, for example, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and other protected areas. Gypsy sites are not regarded as being among those uses of land which are normally appropriate in Green Belts. Green Belt land should not therefore be allocated for gypsy sites in development plans.”