Dwellings for Non-Agricultural Business Enterprises.
Approval for a new house in the country at Glenmakeeran, Ballyvoy.
Farmers, under PPS21 are permitted one dwelling on their land every ten years. The policy's aim is to provide a home for retiring farmers, family or workers associated with the farm. Within PPS21, policy CTY7 sets out the conditions required for a Non-Agricultural Rural Business to qualify for a dwelling associated with the business. Similar to CTY12 for Farm Dwellings, the policy recognises that Non farm related rural businesses also contribute greatly to the rural economy and therefore should be afforded similar opportunities to provide accommodation at the business for security and to assist in the running of the business. Unfortunately the Planning Department and the Planning Appeals Commission have until now, taken a very negative position regarding the implementation of this policy.
PPS21 was issued in June 2010, although Draft PPS21 was applied for some years before that. The first applications under dPPS21 CTY7 were refused. The first of these refused applications went to the Planning Appeals Commission. In Refused Appeal 2009/A0205. The commissioner ruled that;
“The existing dwelling is within the boundaries of the commercial enterprise and is ideally sited for the supervision of the business. The question of who occupies it is an operational business matter. The appellant’s son or another of the firm’s employees or associates could occupy the dwelling and provide the required security and supervision and in this context, I consider any specific need that makes it essential for one of the firm’s employees to live at the site of their work, to be met. Policy CTY7 makes no provision for an additional dwelling to facilitate the retirement of an employee or proprietor of a business...."
And so the PAC's ruling set a precedent for all similar applications to follow. We were quite aware of this ruling before lodging the planning application and were not surprised when it was directly quoted as the main reason for refusal when this application was first brought to council. However, we had done our research and formulated our arguments well in advance. For instance, if the owner of the business has retired and lives onsite then he is no longer associated with the business. He simply lives beside it now he is retired.
PPS21 CTY12 for Farm Dwellings make absolutely no mention of retirement, yet dwellings are approved for retiring farmers at the farm business. The retirement is not considered "an operational business matter" when farming is concerned. It was quite clear that the policy itself was broken and not being implemented as intended by the various politicians and government bodies who formulated it. Laverty Architecture lobbied these bodies along with local politicians, MLA's and MP's regarding the implementation of PPS21 CTY7. Eventually, the pressure paid off and the site has now been approved. Laverty Architecture, MPs and indeed the Planners themselves could not turn up any approvals under PPS21 CTY7 anywhere in Northern Ireland. Only the renewal of an old PPS14 approval. We believe we have set a precedent for Non-Agricultural Businesses across Northern Ireland which supersedes the precedent made by the Planning Appeals Commission. This now opens the doors for retiring rural business owners who wish to remain in their home as they can potentially build another house for the new owner. The planners until now have seen retirement as "an operational matter for the business". Effectively forcing the retiring business owner to leave their home so the new owner can live onsite.
The planners refused the house design with little other feedback than "it is too complicated". The house itself had to meet a complex brief and take advantage of solar gain and views. Care had to be taken to provide separation between the residential and the commercial yard next door. At the same time security and access to the yard from the house also influenced the layout and design. We believed that the design was the best solution to the brief. By preparing a detailed concept statement and 3d Images of the house in context we eventually persuaded the Planning Department and gained approval this month. The case file containing all drawings is here.