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Isolated Location?

There is an evident lack of a definition of ‘isolated’ in the NPPF a matter which has been explored by various Inspectors and a matter which is often the inhibitor to securing development on a site - even a ‘brownfield’ site (or previously developed land).  The following might aid some in their interpretation:

An Inspector was considering an appeal against the refusal of outline planning permission for two dwellings in Suffolk.  The site was outside of an identified settlement boundary and within open countryside.  The Inspector described the proposed site as being within an established cluster of houses connected via a public footway to the village which benefitted from an accompanying primary school, public house, village hall, sports facilities, a service station with shop and modest bus service. The Inspector also noted that there were some limited additional shops, services and employment facilities which could be accessed by public footway and that the appeal site would also be in relatively close proximity to a large urban centre and its extensive range of shops, services and public transport facilities.

Many of the above facilities within the area would however not be within short walking distance of the appeal site.  The Inspector considered that this distance was not so excessive as to discourage walking completely it was not likely that a high proportion of trips would be made via this method. Such facilities would however be within easy reach via cycling. Overall, having considered the opportunities for more sustainable modes of transport , it was concluded that the development’s location in the countryside would not minimise the need to travel by car for everyday needs.  The Inspector then went on to state:   

“The Council states that the development fails to accord with Paragraph 55 of the Framework in so far as it would represent an isolated new home in the countryside where new housing should be avoided unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. However, given that the Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance provide no definition of what constitutes an isolated dwelling, I have formed the view that this would depend upon a number of different factors, such as (but not exclusively); (a) its physical proximity to other dwellings and whether it fell within an otherwise built-up cluster or frontage; (b) its proximity to the built-up areas of nearby settlements; (c) its ‘sense’ of remoteness; and (d) its proximity to shops, services and public transport and whether sustainable modes of transport (walking and cycling) could be used to access them.

More scope for those of you with brownfield sites on the edge of villages?  Perhaps and might be worth exploring in greater detail!  Obviously this is only one Inspector’s view but still makes for some interesting reading.  Contact Bourne Rural for more information.

Jill Scrivener