More rural building granted as Purbeck misses housing target

The government has told Dorset Council that planning permission in Purbeck should be tilted in favour of allowing new housing to be built outside a village’s development boundary because Purbeck has only delivered 74 percent of the homes required in the area.

This emerged as outline planning permission was granted for eight new homes in Crack Lane on the edge of the village of Langton Matravers near Swanage.

Crack Lane at Langton Matravers

Crack Lane in Langton Matravers

Rural Exception Site planning policy

At a meeting of the Dorset Council’s Eastern Area Planning Committee on Wednesday 10th March 2021, councillors heard that normally all the houses would have to be designated as affordable housing for this scheme to be granted planning permission in the countryside, outside the development boundary.

Housing is allowed in suitable locations outside the normal boundaries of a village under the Rural Exception Site planning policy, if they are all classed as affordable.

Purbeck has fallen short of the government’s housing delivery test

However on Tuesday 19th January 2021, the council was informed that Purbeck had fallen short of the government’s housing delivery test and failed to provide enough homes to meet the housing need.

This means that Dorset Council planners are now under pressure to aid the delivery of more homes quickly and therefore recommended allowing two of the eight houses on the Crack Lane development to be sold on the open market.

Aerial view of Langton Matravers

Aerial view of Langton Matravers with the development site outlined in red

“Concern that we are setting a precedent of incursion into the countryside”

Concerns were raised by councillor Bill Trite, who represents Swanage and Langton Matravers on Dorset Council, that allowing non restricted homes to be built in the surrounding countryside would set a precedent for more of the same. He said:

“I’m very sympathetic to the ratio of six affordable homes to two market homes but how would he (the planning officer) answer the concern that we are setting a precedent of incursion into the countryside?”

The planning officer, James Lytton-Trevers responded:

“It doesn’t set a precedent per se – it’s just one site we are looking at, not others. I don’t agree that granting permission here would set a precedent at other locations.”

Crack Lane is just outside the development boundary of the village of Langton Matravers

We’ve decided there isn’t harm to the AONB

James Lytton-Trevers added:

“Normally we wouldn’t have supported market dwellings in a situation like this. We would expect it to be 100 percent affordable but because of the housing land supply (issue), we’re supporting it…

“In Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), if we find there is harm to that AONB, we don’t have to allow market dwellings, so there is a ‘get out of jail free’ card that we could play here but in this case, we’ve decided there isn’t harm to the AONB, so we can support the scheme.”

Crack Lane at Langton Matravers

The junction of Crack Lane and the High Street in Langton Matravers

Unsuitability of Crack Lane to cope with increased traffic

Concerns were also raised by nearby residents of the unsuitability of Crack Lane, which as the name suggests, is very narrow, to cope with increased traffic including delivery lorries.

However councillors heard that the narrowness ensured that the traffic naturally proceeded cautiously down the lane and that a footpath would have to be built alongside the road, as part of the condition of building the homes.

Another condition was imposed on the site, that the two market homes could only be built if the six affordable homes were also constructed at the same time, thus closing a possible loophole.

The outline planning permission was granted following a vote, with eight councillors, including Bill Trite in favour and two councillors voting against.

Other decisions involving development in Swanage

At the same planning meeting, later in the proceedings, other decisions were made involving development in Swanage.

  • Three new terraced houses on a triangle of land by the junction of Bell Street and Priest’s Road with parking – permission granted.
  • Replace existing dwelling with detached house and build an additional dwelling next to it at 1a Battlemead in Swanage – permission granted on appeal.
  • Convert a store to a residential unit at the rear of 31 Station Road, backing onto Commercial Road – permission granted on appeal.

Watch Dorset Council’s Eastern Area Planning Committee

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