Planning Exemptions Carry Full Weight

A recent decision involving development proposals in the Green Belt will be of interest to those considering making planning applications over Green Belt land.

It involved a planning application granted by Epping Forest District Council for a glasshouse to be built within the Lee Valley Regional Park, which contains a 'special protection area'.

The park authority objected to the planning decision on a number of grounds.

One of the most important arguments was that the national Green Belt planning policy, contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), should trump the exemptions within the NPPF that can allow development in the Green Belt.

In particular the park authority argued that the legislation comprising the NPPF, which puts its weight behind restrictions on development of the Green Belt, was all-encompassing and that a subsection which provides a relaxation for agricultural buildings such as glasshouses or for forestry did not need to be given the same weight as the preliminary paragraphs of the NPPF, which set out its general objectives.

The argument went to the Court of Appeal, which rejected the challenge to the application, holding that such exemptions as are contained in the NPPF, which are very specific, need to be given full weight when planning applications are being considered.

In a case involving one of the exemptions, the NPPF acts as a moderator, allowing applications within an exemption class to be considered in the context of the NPPF's objectives as a whole.