The Real Threat to Green Belt Villages from the #NPPF

More than slightly fed up with seeing puffed up storeys about the NPPF its time to demonstrate one of the real and very considerable threats, it radically weakens policy over development in villages Green Belts.

Lets take an example of a very typical Green Belt village, Bough Beach near Edenbridge Kent, Sevenoaks District. One pub left, lost all its other services, station included generations ago. Yes the Green on the map means green belt.

Currently controls over development in Green Belt villages are very strict, unless it is the sort of large village you would cut out of the Green Belt anyway. ost villages are what is called ‘washed over’ by the Green Belt, as here, normal policy presuming against new housing applies. If some limited infill was ok, say a village was slightly larger and has some services, they can be designated as ‘infill only’ villages. It is a matter of local choice. A local authority can choose the degree of control appropriate.

The NPPF get rid of that it says now in para. 144 that one ‘exception’ to the normal presumption against new buildings in the Green Belt is ‘limited infilling in villages.’ When I first read this I almost fell off my chair. Either some of the developers or their agents on the ‘practitioners advisory group’ had pulled a very fast one or the Department had completely misunderstood the role and purpose of this policy.

What it means is that every Green Belt village in the country limited infilling is acceptable. Indeed now as the ‘presumption against’ inappropriate development in the Green Belt no longer applies the ‘presumption in favour’ applies. The NPPF is a presumption in favour of limited infill in Green Belt villages.

Just having a quick look around the village I found at least 20 sites where the default answer would probably be ‘yes’ under the NPPF. There are lots of trees, but only veteran trees are given strict protection. The traffic access issues to single plot sites would probably not be so severe to pass the very low traffic impact test in the NPPF. LIke a lot of Green Belt villages it has a lot of fairly large 1/2 acre to 2 acre sites development within the plots of which would count as infill. I counted over 20 such potential sites in this one little village alone. Presumably the prospect of villagers making a great deal of money was thought to be able of countering opposition.

Indeed the NPPF does not need to propose deleting fields from the Green Belt to allow much more development in the Green Belt. It merely has to propose a rule such as this which could be repeated several hundred times in the Green Belt around London alone.

30 thoughts on “The Real Threat to Green Belt Villages from the #NPPF

  1. Where does it state in the NPPF that “only veteran trees” will be protected what happened to section 197 of the T & CP Act giving martial consideration to all trees within an planning application?

    From a worried Tree Officer.

    P.S. What is your considered opinion for the future need for applications to be supported with phase 1 habitat surveys and EPS surveys

    • Still a material consideration because of section 197 but a weak one in face of ‘presumption in favour’

      Only policy in NPPF that specifically refers to tree protection is para 168.which is still caveated ‘unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss’

  2. Andrew,

    I’m enjoying your excellent blog.

    This issue you raise is particularly disturbing, but how does it relate to land already identified through SHLAA, and land not yet SHLAA’d? Looking at my local patch, West Dorset, the SHLAA process seems to have already identified a fair bit of the potential total village in-fill (and indeed some fields/farms that look like they might be outside the village envelope). So the presumption in favour would presumably apply to these – is this what “limited” means in “limited in-fill”? Would there be another opportunity for more in-fill through a further SHLAA round, or could sites be put forward as part of the neighbourhood planning process, and outside the normal SHLAA process.


    • Dont confuse Green Belt and Green Belt -Dorset has very little Green Belt

      But as a general principle outside green belt if a SHLAA says sites is physically suitable and a you dont have a 5 year supply the NPPF nods it through.

      • What happens where the SHLAA has identified a need for extra village housing but not identified the appropriate land? Will the NPPF ” nod it through” if a development application is greenfield infill land on the edge of the village and outside the village planning boundary ?

      • Having read the DNPPF many times, I still do not understand how the DNPPF interacts with existing planning boundaries. Does the presumption in favour of sustainable development mean that applications outside planning boundaries, but say close to existing settlements (infills) and which do not have an adverse affect on the environment, will be approved ?

      • If you have an out of date local plan then the distinction between land inside a boundary and outside it is somewhat academic as the NPPF says approve. A quite deliberate tactic.

        SHLAA donmt identify need, SHMAs do, and very few of those at a village level. What will matter more is compliance with the 5 year requirement district wide.

  3. thanks Andrew – I’m no planning expert (as you can tell), but am very interested in how the NPPF will affect the development status of fields within and on the edge of existing villages/towns.

      • Thanks for the reply.

        I live in a non-green belt village, but it is surrounded by green belt land. Some of the houses on the edge of the village are in green belt land (outside the village planning boundary). Is it possible to have NPPF “limited green belt village infill” on such land, if it meets your definition below ? Some of these perifhery houses have green belt land/gardens surrounded by existing houses (at leaset on three sides but facing open counrtyside), so would appear to meet your definition below. It seems to me that if the NPPF goes ahead, there will be a lot of green belt infilling on the edge of villages.

  4. Pingback: NPPF: A field day for the planning lawyers | Miles King's Blog

  5. Andrew, I shall be very grateful if you would do an illustrative green belt viilage infill example on Kingston, Nr Lewes, East Sussex BN7

      • Thanks Andrew. When it comes to green belt village infilling, is it simply a method of drawing a straight line between the outer most houses and calling everything in the middle “infill”. I cannot find a practicle working definition for “green belt village infilling” as referred to in DNPPF par 144

  6. Andrew, in your opinion will the green belt village infilling proposal in the DNPPF reach the legislative statutory book?

  7. It terms of the DNPPF Is there a difference between green belt village infilling and
    village infilling outside the village planning boundary (ie in the countryside) ? Will the DNPPF allow limited country side village infilling ?

    • SHLAA is strategic housing land availability assessment

      There is no specific definition of village infilling, there is no proposal for infilling outside villages

      Isolated housing in the countryside had a very specific meaning in PPS7 i.e. ‘away from established settlements or from areas allocated for housing in development plans’ There is no definition in the NPPF. It would appear to leave the field open to LPAs how to deal with housing next to existing clusters away from villages. There is no longer a policy of protecting the countryside for ios own sake so as drafted its one to be yexted at appeal.

      • Many thanks for clearing up my confusion. So it appears that SHLAA is about housing supply and SHMA is about housing demand. I wish planning terminology could be made more user friendly!

  8. What is wrong with having new settlement in the countryside? It is not beyond the scope of architects and planners to create brand new beautiful homes and settlements and thus relieve the mass of society from being crammed within the greenbelt.

    With just 10% of the country being urbanised, ie built on, and land being freed up because of gains in agricultural output we could be having dispersed housing in redundant farmland and landscaped with wildlife corridors to boot.

  9. The NPPF talks about weighing up the adverse effects and the benefits of a proposed development and that sustainability is an important factor. But from a practical point of view what does sustainablity mean in the context of a small village infill site outside the village boundary? It all seems a bit vague to me.

  10. If a local plan is upto date or made NPPF compliant, could planning boundaries become obsolete by the principles of sustainable development and presumption in favour ? I am particulary thinking of small scale infill developments outside planning boundaries on the edge of villages.

  11. I live in a green belt area and conservation area- we have an Aggressive application by a Tesco Express store to erect 2.4 m fences and have additional hard core- seriously adversely effecting the openess of the green belt- planning officer recommended everything for approval- any ideas??

  12. i live in a village called pakenham near bury st edmunds , last month i applied for planning permision for two dwellings we are outside the settlement of the village.
    my property is down a road call fen road i have houses on the right hand side of me and the left and in front of me , the local council turned down the planning application on the grounds that no development can be built in the countryside i cant see how the nppf can help if the local council we not take any notices of the policy.

  13. Hi, I hope you can help, I am not based in the south of England, but do have a green belt question specifically about infill policies. We live on the outskirts of a washed over village in Chester (address has the village name but is 0.75 miles from the built up village centre, but it amongst a small hamlet of houses). We have an infill site between our house and our neighbours. Is it likely we would get planning permission or would it be a definite no-no?

    • well i live in a small village called pakenham , we went to appeal on the same details us you described in the above paragraph we lost on appeal it all depends on what inspector you get on the day.

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