Private investment in the Countryside: An Assessment of the Role of New Houses and Estates In Sustaining the Rural Economy and Environment
The British countryside has been shaped and sustained over the years by the establishment of landed estates. Some of our best known, and now most protected, landmarks derive from this tradition by which money, that was often sourced from outside the rural economy, was invested in land. Whilst there was some reversal in this trend during the last century, there is again a widespread desire among people of means to invest in new country property. Paragraph 3.21 of Planning Policy Guidance Note 7: The Countryside - Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development was introduced in 1997 as a means of perpetuating the historic tradition of innovation in the countryside through the construction of fine individual houses in landscaped grounds. That it was considered necessary to use a special provision of this kind reflects the prevailing presumption of planning authorities against allowing private residential development in open countryside. The Government is currently reviewing rural planning policy and is focusing on higher density housing, affordable homes and the use of brownfield sites. There is an underlying conception that individual private house developments contribute nothing and are seen as the least attractive option for most development sites. The purpose of paragraph 3.21 lies outside the government’s priorities and its particular provisions may therefore be excluded in forthcoming ‘policy statements’. This paper seeks to examine the role of private investors wishing to build new houses in the countryside, and the impact that that might have on local economies. It explores the interpretation placed on PPG7 through an investigation of appeal sites, and concludes by making recommendations for the review process, including the retention of some form of exceptions policy for new build houses.
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