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Fall back position demonstrates special circumstances

By Andrew Boothby

Senior Planning Consultant

AR Group

OBTAINING planning permission for new buildings and extensions in the Green Belt can be very challenging. Local and national planning policies apply significant weight to the preservation of these areas, limiting the type and scale of development which is allowed.

However, it can be possible to achieve certain forms of development by demonstrating that the harm caused by a proposal will be outweighed by other material factors. This is commonly known as ‘very special circumstances’.

Aitchison Raffety recently secured planning permission, from a Hertfordshire local authority, for the demolition of a house in the Green Belt and its replacement with a substantially larger dwelling and detached garage.

Usually this form of development would be refused as inappropriate, however, we were able to obtain consent on the grounds the client had an alternative ‘fall back’ position. We were able to demonstrate, through the approval of a Lawful Development Certificate, that the existing house could be extended without planning permission, to a far greater extent than the proposed replacement dwelling under permitted development. This included a large outbuilding within the rear garden.

The ‘fall back’ position formed a case of ‘very special circumstances’ with the local planning authority accepting it would have greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the replacement dwelling.

In our experience, local planning authorities are becoming increasingly more accepting of ‘fall back’ positions when considering proposed development within the Green Belt, opening previously limited opportunities within these areas.

For further information please contact Andrew Boothby, Senior Planning Consultant, on 01442 291798 or

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