The Durrants team are celebrating an excellent win on behalf of their client this week after securing full planning permission for a rural workers dwelling in Rumburgh, East Suffolk.
The application was made in order to allow an engineering company to continue to operate their agricultural machinery maintenance business by living on site. Durrants Building Consultancy’s in-house architects provided the supporting plans and the planning team produced the supporting planning documentation, including the Planning, Design and Access Statement.
Policy WLP8.11 of the Waveney Local Plan sets a high threshold to allow new homes in the countryside for rural workers. Applications must demonstrate an essential functional need which cannot be met by other nearby housing. The question of functional need is often, as in this case, mistakenly interpreted as applying to maintaining the welfare of livestock, excluding agricultural support services. However, Durrants outlined in the planning statement and committee speech that this is a misconception, and that both local and national policy support housing for anyone who needs to live close to their place of work in the countryside, regardless of the nature of that work. In this case the company provides agricultural machinery maintenance services to 400 clients across East Anglia.
Durrants Building Consultancy set out a clear case for approval in the planning submission, including site security, business efficiency (particularly relating to a 24/7 call-out service) and sustainability. The application received letters of support from local residents, business owners, and the support of the parish council and ward members. The application was recommended for refusal by the case officer on the basis that no functional need had been demonstrated.
However, thanks to successful lobbying, the application was referred to full planning committee, where it was subject to a thorough debate by members and ultimately approved. One of the most compelling reasons for approval which emerged during the debate was site security. Members recognised the rise in rural crime and the value of living on site in preventing theft. Secondary to this was the crucial role that the applicant’s business plays in the local agricultural sector, and the importance that planning decisions play in supporting rural farming communities.
We are thrilled for our client, and pleased that members were able to see that rural workers policies are designed to be permissive in appropriate circumstances, not preventative.
Rural workers dwellings can be contentious, but with the right team of experts and a strategic approach, it is possible to secure a home close to your place of work in the countryside, and we would encourage anyone who is considering applying to get in touch with our team to discuss your ambitions.