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Thu 25 October 2018

Samuel & Son successfully obtained planning consent for a new dwelling on a heavily designated rural site.

A client approached us having privately acquired a smallholding abutting a family member’s residential property, and with a natural interest in protecting their principal asset and potentially adding value, enquired whether there were any development opportunities to the site. The smallholding comprised a heavily designated predominately ancient woodland of approximately 8 acres, with an woodsman’s yard.  The yard was littered with an array of ramshackle structures (old mobile homes, static caravans, Nissen huts, lorry bodies, etc.,), piles of hardcore, old tyres and plant machinery in varying states of disrepair.   It was an eyesore to say the least and there were certainly environmental considerations given the extent and type of detritus around adjacent to an ancient woodland site.   The only fixed feature on site was a 45’ x 20’ relatively modern agricultural tin barn.

The property was heavily designated: sandwiched between Semi Natural Ancient Woodland to the north and south; within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and situated within the 15km zone of influence for The Ashdown Forest’s Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Further to various discussions with the client, it was determined that the next objective from acquiring the site was to establish planning consent for a dwelling.  For this task he engaged Samuel & Son’s Head of Planning, Dan Page.  In consideration of the sensitive location, Dan knew that it would be an insightful and challenging test of the Local Planning Authority’s (LPA) ‘Flexible Approach’ to new dwellings in the countryside.   Although there was an existing agricultural barn on site, the property could not benefit from Class Q Permitted Development Rights because of being situated within the AONB.  Nevertheless, Dan considered there to be sufficient positive planning policy and guidance to warrant the submission of such an application under the ‘Flexi-Approach’.

Dan therefore organised a Pre-Application advice surgery with the LPA and submitted the initial proposal to knock down the existing tin barn, clear all the rubbish from the site and erect a family dwelling.


Dan prepared a full planning application for a 3 bedroom dwelling of about 285sq m, submitting a detailed and comprehensive Planning Statement supported by various third party surveys and reports concentrating on the ecological advantages that the development would effect on the property.

Pleasingly, the content of the application was compelling and credible to the LPA and the application was passed, three days early by the case officer independently without the need to acquire Committee approval.

Our client was delighted with the result commenting: “Dan’s intimate knowledge of local and national planning policies combined with his tactical savvy meant that the development proposal had a clear strategy from day one.  A strategy that turned each of the sites numerous developmental liabilities into developmental assets.   The results speak for themselves.”

*NB 2018 update: The LPA has now removed its ‘flexi-approach’ from its planning guidance



Samuel & Son won an appeal against a Local Planning Authority for their refusal of a planning application to convert a redundant farm building into a dwelling under the Class Q Permitted Development rights.

The building in question was a simple and modest brick built and tile roofed old nursery building which, for all intents and purposes, essentially looked like a dwelling in the making, and was sited within 2 acres of surrounding agricultural land, close to the road and in proximity of other dwellings.


Acting on behalf of our client, Samuel & Son submitted the Class Q application to the Local Planning Authority Council, which was refused on the basis that a conversion and its associated ‘domestic paraphernalia’ would generate an unacceptable impact on the unspoilt character of the wider landscape.

Samuel & Son considered that these reasons for refusal were not in line with, or justified by the relevant national permitted development policy guidance and therefore a written representation appeal was made immediately to the Planning Inspectorate.  The Planning Inspectorate pleasingly upheld the planning appeal and granted consent for the change of use to a dwelling house.

Here at Samuel & Son we appreciate that there is a fine line between providing dwellings for the population of the South East, as well as protecting our landscape and its visual beauty.  In this instance, a redundant and dilapidated farm barn will now be sympathetically converted into a modest but attractive 2 bedroom dwelling.



Our clients purchased a Sussex smallholding of about 6 acres in 1997 comprising pasture, woodland and a 9m x 9m ageing steel framed storage barn and used the land for private equestrian and agricultural purposes.  They approached Samuel & Son seeking professional advice about the potential conversion of the existing agricultural storage barn into an alternative use.

The property appeared to have all the ingredients to fulfil a Class Q permitted development application however, it was situated just within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which immediately excludes the property from these permitted development rights.  On this basis of the LPA’s ‘flexi-approach’ to Class Q development, a full planning application for a modest 2 bed Wealden style farmhouse to replace, and slightly extend, the footprint of the existing barn on site, which had no architectural merit, was submitted.

The LPA were supportive of the application and it was recommended for approval by the planning case officer but, out of his control, the application was referred to Planning Committee.  Following an extended six month consultation process, at the final committee hearing in June 2015, there was an hour of intense and heated debate on the proposal with various comments both in favour and in opposition.  Ultimately Dan Page was able to demonstrate, through his allotted time to speak to the Committee, that the the existing building could be replaced with a more sympathetic, and better designed sustainable building than would have resulted from the conversion of the steel portal framed and clad building, thus improving the visual amenity of the local area.

With support from the Head of Planning, the Planning Committee decided that on balance, with the enhancement of the landscape and its social and economic benefits to the area, the development was a positive improvement to the community and the vote went in our favour, 6-4.

Needless to say, the applicants were delighted with the result achieved, commenting:  “Dan Page of Samuel & Son had been recommended to us by two local farmers.  We are absolutely delighted with the outcome which would not have been achievable without the professional guidance and expertise of Dan throughout this very complicated planning process.”

*NB 2018 update: The LPA has now removed its ‘flexi-approach’ from its planning guidance


Samuel & Son have successfully assisted a client with a retrospective planning application for the retention of an existing accommodation and the change from private to commercial equestrian use of his stable yard following on from the LPA serving a ‘Planning Contravention Notice’ for unauthorised development on the client’s property.


Retrospective Dwelling for Equestrian Rural Worker & Commercial Equestrian Business

Samuel & Son were approached by a client who had been served a ‘Planning Contravention Notice’ in relation to the unauthorised commercial and residential use of his stable yard.

The original consent for the stable yard was for private equestrian use only whereas our client had let out the property to an equestrian coach who was running a livery and training yard.  The most significant breach of planning was the conversion of part of the main stable block to residential accommodation that served as a home for the equestrian coach who was living on site for the purpose of managing her business.


Dan submitted a single retrospective application to the LPA on behalf of our client for the retention of the existing ‘essential’ accommodation for a rural worker and the change of use of the land to commercial equestrian.

In this case, the LPA granted consent for the change of use to commercial equestrian and for the retention of the rural worker’s dwelling.  Needless to say our client and his commercial tenant were delighted with the result.  Our client now has a guaranteed long term income from the commercial lease assisting with the management and development of the holding and the equestrian coach can continue to live and run her business on the site without the worry of enforcement.

Client Testimony
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dan and his colleagues at Samuel and Son for their help in gaining residential planning consent at the stables.  I felt that they were extremely thorough with the case they provided to the LPA, and that they were very professional, and efficient in all aspects of the application. As you can imagine I am extremely pleased with the positive outcome”