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Five ways homes can be built in the greenbelt

The term greenbelt refers to designated areas of land, usually countryside land, that are strongly protected from development in order to limit urbanisation and preserve the biodiversity of land.

The preservation of greenbelt land is a planning tool put in place by the UK government to ensure there are buffers between towns and cities. This means towns and cities do not merge, as well as surrounding limits around cities that work to prevent urban expansion.

As greenbelt land is so securely protected, it can be an extremely difficult process to gain planning permission and develop on it - though it isn't wholly impossible. There is a wide array of options you can decide between when considering your approach to gaining greenbelt planning permission.

In this article, we aim to outline some of the ways you are more likely to gain planning permission on greenbelt land. However, you should note there is no guaranteed certainty that your planning will be approved.

1. Build an exceptional home

There is a policy within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that permits development on greenbelt land with the condition that the house is of exceptionally high quality.

To be more specific, the policy outlines that the design must be "truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas" and would "significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area."

These homes, also known as a Paragraph 79 house in reference to the NPPF policy, must be unique and special in order to offset the loss of greenbelt land through development. An example of an exceptional home is one that is entirely sustainable - an eco-home - or has significantly unique and impressive design architecture.

It is important to note that Paragraph 79 of the NPPF policy traditionally applies to singular developments on large areas of land, rather than multiple dwellings.

2. Build accessible and affordable housing

If you can prove that your desired development location is an area where affordable housing is in demand, you can potentially obtain planning permission to build on greenbelt land in order to address this. Affordable housing is a lot more accessible and is more likely to benefit a local area than hinder it, though this type of planning requires solid evidence of housing demand and must still meet the Local Plan requirements.

3. Decrease the greenbelt through the Local Planning process

Local councils can gain access to greenbelt land through new Local Plans in exceptional circumstances - this can include a strong demand for new homes, amongst other reasons. Going through the local council may look like the most likely route for obtaining planning permission, yet this option can also be the most lengthy and difficult.

For example, to prove that there is a demand for new homes, local councils would have to demonstrate that they have maximised available brownfields areas and that they have considered assistance of neighbouring councils in their plight for meeting the demand for new homes.

Again, it is important to remember that gaining access to greenbelt land is never guaranteed, even if you choose to go through the Local Planning process.

4. Repurpose agricultural buildings

An increasingly popular trend in property design and development involves repurposing an agricultural building and turning it into a residential property. This could potentially enable you to gain access to greenbelt land. Dependent on size, agricultural buildings can be a great site to develop modern residential homes.

Permitted development rights must be obtained prior to repurposing an agricultural building into residential, and there are some limitations on the rights you are required to obtain. For example, there are size restrictions that you must consider prior to the repurposing of the building, as well as limitations to the number of residential properties that can be created using the agricultural building - the current limitation is five homes.

5. Consider land that is already developed

Similar to the repurposing of agricultural buildings, considering land that has been previously developed can sometimes be a simpler way to obtain planning permission on greenbelt land. Much of the greenbelt land across the country has been developed previously, and these areas can be a great place to build new homes.

As with many of the options we have shared with you, there are restrictions. The greenbelt land must be maintained and these new developments cannot severely disrupt the intentions of the greenbelt land to prevent urban sprawl.

Discuss your plans with an expert

With over 15 years of experience and a 91 per cent planning success rate, you can depend on our expert team to give you the best chance of achieving your property development plans.

If you're in possession of land that you'd like to sell, or for more general enquiries about property development on greenbelt land and gaining planning permission, contact us today and our experienced team will be happy to assist you.


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