High Court ruling provides interesting insights on the application of National Green Belt policy

An application to demolish a disused wooden structure in the garden of a listed 17th Century cottage to make way for the erection of a garden room/home office in the Green Belt was refused planning permission by Warwick District Council. However, the decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate in January 2022.

This decision came as a result of the application of paragraph 149(c) of the National Planning Policy Framework. Paragraph 149(c) states that A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in the Green Belt. Exceptions to this are: the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building. The Council concluded that the proposed development was not compliant with this policy exception on the basis the structure was not physically attached to another building. The Inspector found that what was proposed was an “extension” within the exceptions listed in paragraph 149(c) despite its 20 metres distance away from the cottage.

The case was later taken to the High Court due to concerns with the application of paragraph 149(c).The judge ruling the case stated “the presence or absence of a physical connection between the original building and the new building is not conclusive as to, and is arguably of minimal relevance to, the degree of impact on the green belt”. It was ultimately confirmed that “paragraph 149(c) is not to be interpreted as being confined to physically attached structures but that an extension for the purposes of that provision can include structures which are physically detached from the building of which they are an extension”.

The Judges reaffirmance of the Inspectors opinion meant the council’s challenge of the case was dismissed and further clarity has been provided on how paragraph 149(c) should be applied in practice.

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