We first got involved with this Green Belt site in 2016 when a Certificate of Lawfulness was obtained to establish the previously developed status of the site as a landscape gardening business.  We subsequently obtained planning permission for a single storey dwelling on the site in 2017 and in the 2018 permission was granted for an underground basement and raised patio.  The Planners at Oldham Council supported the scheme on the basis that it would not cause harm to the openness of the Green Belt.

Work started on implementing the 2018 planning permission through the demolition and clearance of the building that previously occupied the site and the start of ground works.

In 2020 planning permission was submitted for a more contemporary designed house with a part exposed basement that would be hidden by a retaining wall and landscaped earth mound. At that point the Council Planners raised objection to the scheme despite local Councillors being supportive. Minor changes were made the scheme, but Officers were not supportive.

The Council failed to issue a decision and we advised the client to appeal against the Council’s failure to determine the application within the prescribed time limits.

As part of the appeal the 'Council argued the proposal constituted poor design' and was 'inappropriate development in the Green Belt' and no very special circumstances existed to overcome the demonstrable harm.
The Planning Inspector disagreed with the Council and agreed that the ‘proposed development comprises a well-considered contemporary scheme that responds better to the site than the previous scheme”. The Inspector concluded that the proposal would constitute inappropriate development as it would result in a considerably greater built form on the site than at present as the original building had been removed.

In considering the planning balance the Inspector agreed with our case that the previous planning approvals should be given significant weight in the determination of the appeal as there was a very real possibility that the fall-back scheme would be implemented. In conclusion, the Inspector was of the opinion that the extant planning consent, the improvements in design and other associated benefits, clearly outweighed the identified harm to the Green Belt and the very special circumstances necessary to justify the development exist in this instance.

This case demonstrates the importance of delivering good design and always putting forward a strong fall-back situation.