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Self-Build Housing Scheme Set for Essex Countryside

In the first appeal on self-build and customised housing proposal, Iceni Projects obtained outline planning permission for a development on greenfield land in Uttlesford, Essex.

London-based Iceni Projects, whose past accomplishments include Farnborough Business Park and Maidenhead Town Centre, provided the planning documents, managed the extended team, and served as an expert witness during the appeal process.

The outline planning application lays out the development parameters, which include specific plot identification, height limits, and materials pallet. The applicant is required to supply the infrastructure for the road and services, and individual plots are subsequently separated to enable people to build their new homes according to their personal specifications.

The planning application originally submitted by Iceni Projects in early 2014 sought outline permission for 22 custom-build properties, a large public open green, and access onto nearby St. Edmunds Lane. The proposed development included a combination of detached homes, including twelve 2-3 bedroom properties, seven 4-5 bedroom homes, and three bungalows accommodating three or four bedrooms. The scheme also included a number of wheelchair-accessible properties and homes designed for lifetime accommodation, so that the development would offer maximum adaptability and accessibility.

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Having undertaken a considerable about of community consultation, the planning proposal for the new development gained a lot of support from community members who were interested in seeing their own ‘grand design’ come to fruition.

Despite the high degree of local support, Uttlesford District Council ultimately decided to decline the application in May 2014 under certain delegated powers. The Inspector granted the appeal in May 2015, finding that the self-build element entailed substantial and significant benefits that surpassed the concerns raised by the council, which included loss of countryside.

The Inspector ruled that constructing 22 customised and self-build properties on the edge of a community in Essex was in accord with paragraph 50 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), therefore meeting a need for those who wanted to build their own homes.

The Uttlesford District Council accepted that the adopted local plan did not address this issue, but also stated that 38 custom and self-build homes had been built in the area since 2012. The appellant disputed this statement, asserting that only one site could be described as a custom build.

The Inspector decided that the appealed proposal would meet an existing demand in the area, given the fact that the UK government had promised to provide 100,000 self-build and custom properties over the next 10 years.

Other factors also supported the scheme. The council could not prove that an adequate supply of housing land was available, as four of the past five years had seen an ongoing under-delivery of new dwellings. This sub-par performance justified a buffer of 20%.

The Inspector also determined that the delivery of housing on some sites was questionable: several properties had been constructed without having obtained outline planning permission beforehand.

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