Company News

Paragragh 84 Strategy

December 16, 2023

The new NPPF:  December 2023 retains the qualification of paragraph 84 proposals as follows:

Planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless one or more of the following circumstances apply:

e) the design is of exceptional quality, in that it: - is truly outstanding, 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.

Outstanding design is very subjective.  If Local authority SPG (supplementary planning guidance) and SPD’s (supplementary planning documents) are to be used as a guide, the bar is very low. These documents tend to extract the banal and prevalent style in locality and expound it as a benchmark for new development, they constrain rather than encourage, creating a tick list of parameters and features that reduce design to a cut and paste exercise.

Para 80 has always intended to promote design beyond the ordinary, to allow an outlet for expressive and challenging design on unique sites. However, it has, in the past, been highjacked to reproduce historical pastiche architecture, perpetuating the fantasy of substantial country houses with faux classical detailing, this is not promoting or advancing design, nor raising standards of design more generally in rural areas.

We are involved in  a number of paragraph 84 projects and have developed a strategy to facilitate design development in this area.

It is important to highlight here that the legislation is no longer aimed at substantial proposals only, there is no criteria to suggest that modest dwellings cannot contribute positively to rural design, in fact, the vast majority of rural development is made up of smaller properties, recognisable scale and proportion that should be used as a model when considering Para 80 proposals.

The first step is to select a site. This must be supported by rigorous investigation, topographic, ecological, historical, and environmental. This will inform the design strategy.  Our proposals for Offchurch, Warwickshire, were developed to be sensitive to site topography, the woodland backdrop and the impact on views to the Parish church. The use of extensive landscape studies supported the submission the Design Panel, an additional step required to establish an independent view of the quality of design.  The Midland Design Panel supported this scheme unequivocally.

This does not guarantee success, the ruminations of the design panel can be ignored or overruled by the local planning authority and their planning committees.  Local engagement is also important, the support of local interest groups, stakeholders and parish councils can smooth the path to a planning consent.

These applications are expensive and carry a significant element of risk, the planning system is unreliable at the best of times. Para. 80 brings another level of subjectivity to applications that, by definition, are located in the fiercely protected countryside of Britain. It is imperative that the right team of consultants are retained to maximise chances of success.

Talk to us about if you want to discuss this strategy further.