The Court of Appeal has rejected a series of appeals brought by a developer over the future of the former college at Bramshill.
In City & Country Bramshill Ltd v SSHCLG  EWCA Civ 320 Senior President of Tribunals Sir Keith Lindblom, with whom Lord Justice Arnold and Lord Justice Phillips agreed, ruled against City & Country Bramshill in a case it brought against the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The case in part concerned the meaning in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) of “isolated homes in the countryside” and assessment of harm and benefit to heritage assets. (Please see separate blog regarding heritage assets).
The appellant argued that as the proposal was for a cluster of dwellings forming a settlement on previously developed land within the curtilage of an existing permanent structure, it would not be classified as isolated. The judgement in this instance builds upon the judgement reached in the Braintree case, confirming that the measure for whether a site is isolated is its proximity to a settlement, not other dwellings.
Whilst Bramshill Park had buildings that were used for residential purposes in the past, this does not in and of itself make it a settlement and thus the site was deemed to be isolated, in accordance with paragraph 79 of the Framework.
Lord Justice Lindholm confirmed that to have ‘remoteness’ be related to other dwellings rather than to settlements would seem inconsistent with the intention of the policy in paragraph 79.
The decision states: “It would mean, presumably, that the policy would not apply to a development of housing in the countryside – large or small – on land next to an individual dwelling remote from the nearest settlement, because although the new homes might be "isolated" from the settlement, they would not be "isolated" from existing development.
It would prevent the policy from applying to the development of additional dwellings, one or two at a time, on sites next to other sporadic rural housing, again on the basis that they would not then be "isolated". It might even prevent the policy from applying to a proposal for two or more dwellings on a single, undeveloped site in the countryside, because none of them would itself be "isolated" from another dwelling, and the development as a whole would therefore not be "isolated".
If this were so, only the development of a single dwelling, on its own, separate from any other dwelling already built or proposed nearby, would engage the policy. This would be hard to reconcile with the Government's aim, as policy-maker, to "promote sustainable development in rural areas".
Mark Campbell – Head of Planning at Evans Jones Ltd commented:
“It is hoped that this decision will provide greater clarity over how exactly an isolated dwelling should be identified, in the context of making applications under Paragraph 79 of the Framework. There are still elements of planning judgement that need to be considered, mainly what qualifies as a settlement and whether development is isolated from it, but this judgement means that such issues are less likely to be subject to judicial intervention”.
Mark Campbell is Principal Planner at Evans Jones. If you would like any further information on the above article or other planning matters, contact Mark on 0800 0014090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.