Barn conversion fallback supports new dwelling

A realistic prospect that a redundant barn in Essex could be converted to residential use under permitted development rights has helped persuade an inspector to approve a new dwelling on the site.

The site lay within a hamlet in open countryside, outside any defined settlement boundaries. A prior approval notice to convert the barn to a dwelling had been issued last year under class Q, part 3, schedule 2 of the GPDO 2015. The inspector referred to the judgment in Mansell v Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council [2017] in reaching the view that this constituted a realistic fallback position for the appellants.

He saw no conflict with paragraph 55 of the NPPF, finding that the proposed dwelling would be near existing buildings and dwellings in the hamlet. In reaching this view, he referred Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017], which held that remoteness from services and facilities does not define whether or not a new dwelling would be isolated.

The inspector accepted that the proposal would conflict with local plan policies to reduce the need to travel, as the dwelling would be located over a mile from limited services, but reasoned that the same harm would arise from the permitted barn conversion. He also held that the scale and design of the proposed building would not be out of keeping, being on the same footprint as the existing barn, and it would contribute to addressing a housing shortfall in the area. In approving the scheme, he was satisfied that no precedent would be set.