Council grants outline permission for self build plots on edge of Warwickshire village, despite a five year housing supply

Stratford-on-Avon council has given outline planning permission for eight self-build homes, with access and associated works, on 0.67ha of former agricultural land off Old Warwick Road on the edge of the village of Ettington (Ref: 15/04449/OUT).

Appearance, landscaping, scale as well as layout are reserved for later determination and each plot is expected to submit a separate planning application for reserved matters. A Section 106 planning obligation is being drawn up and will require that all homes are restricted to ‘self build’ and that the development will be built in accordance with approved details.

The development is promoted by local landowners, the Ettington Estate, who want to promote custom and self build housing and will manage the development to produce a quality small scale housing scheme on its land.

In submitting the proposal, the applicants prepared an indicative site plan and argued that despite the Government’s drive to promote custom and self build housing and the national demand for this form of housing the council did not allocate a single plot for custom and self build development. The applicants also cited the Ettington neighbourhood plan, currently in preparation, which identifies the site as a suitable housing exception site. A Design Code is planned in support of the development.

Although Stratford-on-Avon council can demonstrate a five year housing supply and the principle of the proposal did not accord with the council’s adopted local plan, it granted planning permission. In reaching its decision it gave significant weight to its emerging core strategy which identified the village as a suitable location for housing and because its housing policies were considered out of date. Although the proposal was considered to be on the edge of, but outside, the village boundary (and therefore in the countryside) its scale was not considered to prejudice the emerging core strategy. It also concluded that any countryside impacts were not harmful and could be mitigated by suitable soft landscape screening. The small loss of agricultural land was also considered to not result in significant harm.

The council also had regard to the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the National Planning Policy Framework and took into account the fact that the scheme would contribute to the district’s housing supply and provide opportunities for people to build their own homes.

This is a welcome and pragmatic decision which demonstrates the scope to accommodate small scale custom and self build housing on the edge of built-up areas on agricultural land to help bring forward much needed housing in a way which is not harmful to the countryside or undermines local policy. Although the applicant could have brought forward a hybrid planning application with a Design Code to streamline the consent process for private homebuilders on the site and the council, as recommended in our Toolkit, it was decided that appearance, landscaping, scale as well as layout are reserved for later determination with each plot expected to submit a separate planning application for reserved matters.

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