In 2012 the PAC determined in Planning Appeal 2012/A0270 that if a proposed farm dwelling in the countryside satisfied criteria (a), (b) and (c) of Policy CTY 10 then Policies CTY 8, CTY13 and 14 are not engaged. Policy CTY 10 was determined by the PAC to be entirely self-contained.
However, since that time and in light of the Hyde Judgement (The Department Of the Environment V The Planning Appeals Commission (2014), NIQB) the Commission has issued a further corporate decision fundamentally reversing its previous decision.
One might ask why a Court decision on the acceptability of an existing car park on a working farm in the countryside serving users of Belfast International Airport has to do with PPS 21 policies in relation to farm dwellings.
However, in this court case Justice Tracy stated that all development proposals in the countryside must be assessed against all planning policies and other material considerations that are relevant to it and that no policy within PPS 21 was entirely self contained.
New Appeal Decision – 2014/A0260 indicates that in light of the Hyde Judgement that neither Policies CTY 1 and CTY 10 are self contained and as Policies CTY 13 and CTY 14 set out the criteria for judging the acceptability of new buildings in the countryside, they are therefore relevant policies.
This appeal decision means that farm dwelling application which previously only had to meet the requirements of Policy CTY 10, are now also required to also meet the requirements of Policies CTY 13, 14 and CTY 8.
It would appear that getting planning permission for a farm house in the Northern Ireland countryside has now just got significantly harder for Applicants who will be required to not only comply with Policy CTY 10 but also that the proposed dwelling is acceptable in terms of other PPS 21 planning policies including visual integration, ribbon development and rural character.
This appeal decision raises a potentially interesting conflict between Policies CTY 8 and CTY 10 as one man’s ribbon is often another man’s farm cluster and there is no definition of ribboning in CTY 8.
Determining when a new farm dwelling is part of a cluster and when it is extending a ribbon of development will not be an easy choice for decision makers, whether it be the Council’s or the Commission.
Another question has to be why it has taken the Commission two years since the Hyde Judgement to introduce this change in its approach.
It would appear that going forward Applicants for farm dwellings will now have to meet not only the agricultural need and clustering requirements of Policy CTY 10 but also the location, siting and design (LSD) requirements of Policies CTY 13 and 14 making new applications significantly more difficult to obtain permission.