Chapter 4 - COUNTRYSIDE

METROPOLITAN GREEN BELT

Setting and Maintenance of the Green Belt

4.1 Introduction: The Metropolitan Green Belt has been and will remain the major instrument in controlling the spread of further urban development, protecting the open countryside and to assist in urban regeneration. Notwithstanding its discontinuities due to pre-war development, particularly in the north of the Borough, the protection afforded by Green Belt policy has been invaluable in safeguarding the rural environment from inappropriate development, and maintaining gaps between settlements, bearing in mind the considerable pressures for development that exist.

4. 2 In addition to the controlling nature of Green Belts, Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 (1995) emphasises the positive role they can play. They can provide access to the countryside, opportunities for outdoor sports, opportunities for preserving and enhancing attractive landscapes and areas noted for their nature conservation value, encouraging the improvement of damaged and derelict land and retaining agriculture, forestry and other similar uses.

4. 3 The Surrey Structure Plan sets down the general line of the Green Belt covering most of Surrey, and detailed policies provide the framework for restraint on development within the countryside. The 1994 Local Plan set a detailed Green Belt boundary around Horley for the first time and made some minor updating and other changes to the existing detailed boundaries in the rest of the Borough.

4. 4 Purpose: To protect the open character and functions of the Green Belt.

Policy Co 1

In order to preserve the openness of the Green Belt, as defined on the Proposals Map, planning permission will not be granted for development that is inappropriate to the Green Belt unless justified by very special circumstances. Permission will be granted for the following development:

(a) the construction of a new building for one of the following purposes:

(i) agriculture or forestry in accordance with Policy Co 2;
(ii) the re-use or adaptation of rural buildings in accordance with Policy Co 3;
(iii) infilling or redevelopment at the ‘major existing developed sites’, as defined on the Proposals Map, in accordance with Policy Co 6.
(iv) essential facilities for outdoor sport or recreation, in accordance with Policies Co 7 and Re 8, for cemeteries or for other uses of land which maintain the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it;
(v) the replacement of a dwelling provided it does not result in a materially larger dwelling which is more intrusive, in accordance with Policy Ho 24;
(vi) the extension of a dwelling provided it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the original dwelling, in accordance with Policy Ho 24A;

(b) the carrying out of an engineering or other operation or the making of any material change in the use of land provided that it maintains the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land in it.

Amplification

(1) Any proposals for development in the Green Belt must comply with all other relevant policies in this Plan, and the level of activity which could be generated by the proposed development as well as the scale of the development itself will be carefully considered.
(2) Providing access to the countryside and outdoor sport and recreation, retaining and enhancing landscapes and nature conservation, improving damaged and derelict land and retaining land in agricultural, forestry and associated uses will be encouraged, providing that they maintain the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it.
(3) In addition to maintaining the openness of the Green Belt and not conflicting with the purpose of including land within it, proposals for new or extended golf courses would need to meet the criteria set in Policy Re 9.
(4) Proposals for mineral workings and waste disposal facilities in the Green Belt will be considered against the policies within the Surrey Structure Plan 2004the Surrey Minerals Local Plan 1993 and the Surrey Waste Local Plan 1997.

Agricultural Considerations

4. 5 The Borough Council recognises the important role of agriculture in determining and maintaining the character of the countryside. With the changing economic situation in farming and the land quality in the Borough, it is particularly important that the areas still in use are protected from inappropriate development, which would fragment or reduce the viability of existing holdings; also that farm diversification schemes and those for increasing farm woodland are supported in appropriate cases.

4. 6 The trend toward the fragmentation of farm holdings is one which is increasing throughout the Plan Area. It is assisted by the significant demand for small parcels of land in the countryside for recreational purposes such as horse grazing, leisure plots or quasi agricultural activities. As a result, parts of the countryside are susceptible to unsightly and often intensive development with fencing, field shelters and other related buildings, or retailing, storage and other inappropriate development. The consequence of this process of fragmentation is often a dramatic change to the open and undeveloped character and appearance of the countryside.

Policy Co 2

The Borough Council recognises the importance of and will give priority to agriculture and forestry, and will seek to minimise the detrimental effects to the character and appearance of the Green Belt brought about by the fragmentation of farm holdings.

The Borough Council will seek to ensure that the design and location of agricultural buildings are compatible with the rural environment. Where planning permission is required, the proposal will be considered in the light of the requirements of agriculture and the following factors:-

(i) the location within the landscape and the design, scale and use of materials;
(ii) the need for access to roads suitable for heavy vehicles;
(iii) the acceptability in terms of noise, smell and effluent discharged and the impact on local wildlife habitats;
(iv) the acceptability in terms of nearby residential or recreational areas.

Extensive glasshouse development and other forms of large scale production-intensive units will not be permitted if the scale of the building is large in relation to the size of the agricultural unit.

Amplification

(1) Where an agricultural unit has become unproductive in whole or part, and there are pressures for an alternative use, the Borough Council will seek in the first instance to encourage continued agricultural or forestry use (e.g. in conjunction with an adjoining unit, or diversification which would help to maintain the agricultural unit), before considering non-agricultural uses in accordance with other policies in this Plan.
(2) In seeking to reduce some of the effects of fragmentation, the Borough Council will continue to use Article 4 Directions to bring within planning control the erection of fences and temporary buildings and uses.
(3) Where appropriate, the Borough Council will liase with Defra and the National Farmers Union, and encourage the co-operation of farmers and landowners prior to the submission of proposals for new buildings. In seeking to reduce some of the effects of intensive production, particularly on small sites, the Borough Council will continue to use Article 4 Directions to bring within planning control agricultural buildings and works

Re-use and Adaptation of Rural Buildings

4. 7 Introduction: Despite agriculture being the predominant land use in the borough, large areas do not form part of the rural economy, including land used for horse keeping, other quasi-agricultural activities, and land held speculatively by developers or else under-utilised. However, there may be opportunities for the re-use or adaptation of existing rural buildings for small scale uses in support of agriculture, whether it is full-time or part-time, provided these can ensure the future management and appearance of the land, natural features and buildings contained on the holding. The control of such development is appropriate to ensure that the character of the countryside is protected and that the amenity of the locality is not prejudiced.

4. 8 Purpose: To provide for the re-use and adaptation of rural buildings, while protecting the open character and functions of the Green Belt.

Policy Co 3

Planning permission for the re-use and adaptation of a rural building will be granted provided that:

(i) the proposal does not have a materially greater impact than the present use on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it;
(ii) the proposal does not include any extension or any associated uses of land around the building, including parking, which would conflict with the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it;
(iii) it is a building of permanent and substantial construction, which is capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction;
(iv) the form, bulk and general design of the building is in keeping with its surroundings;
(v) in the case of a residential use:

(a) every reasonable attempt has been made to secure a suitable commercial, industrial or recreational use for the building; or
(b) the residential conversion is a sub-ordinate part of a scheme for commercial, industrial or recreational reuse: or
(c) the proposal meets a need for an agricultural or service dwelling in accordance with Policy Ho 23; and
(d) the appropriate criteria (i)-(iv) above are met;

(vi) the proposal otherwise does not conflict with other policies in the Plan or cause unacceptable harm to amenity.

Amplification

(1) The Borough Council will need to be satisfied that proposals would not:

(a) adversely affect the character of the locality and appearance of the locality;
(b) be harmful to the setting of buildings of historic or architectural interest;
(c) damage the amenities of neighbouring dwellings;
(d) be detrimental to highway safety; or
(e) create excessive traffic on local roads. Parking and servicing requirements must be met on-site, and the removal of “eyesores” will be encouraged.

(2) Uses likely to be appropriate could include light industrial, offices, farm shops, “pick your own”; tourist accommodation, agricultural and service dwellings; livery and horses/ponies for hire, classrooms, interpretative and exhibition space, storage, changing rooms, toilets and limited refreshment facilities in connection with recreational and educational uses; and stabling.
(3) Planning applications for commercial or industrial uses should normally include details of the number of workers and the extent and nature of associated vehicular activity. It may be necessary to restrict by condition the extent and nature of business activities undertaken within and around buildings, including outside storage, hardstandings and car parking, fences, walls etc., in the interests of maintaining the local environment and the openness of the Green Belt.
(4) In the case of proposals involving building works, a structural appraisal may be required. Permission will not normally be granted where the extent of adaptation is tantamount to the erection of a replacement building, e.g. in the case of buildings with low ceilings or of temporary construction, or where the building is unattractive. Residential conversions should not normally involve extensions or peripheral development, or incorporate existing buildings which can be used for garaging or ancillary domestic uses. Permitted development rights will normally be removed by condition, and the extent of any land turned into garden area will be carefully controlled.
(5) In the case of buildings of traditional character and appearance, they must be capable of adaptation without altering their particular character, setting or landscape value and without extensive alteration, rebuilding or extension. Residential conversions are unlikely to be acceptable, particularly if original fabric and features, which the Borough Council considers to be essential, are not being retained. Supplementary Planning Guidance has been produced on Appropriate Uses for Historic Barns.

New Institutional Development

4. 9 Policy Co 4 deleted (2005) as a result of the publication of PPG2 (1995).

Development at Existing Institutional and Other Establishments

4. 10 Policy Co 5 deleted (2005) as a result of the Inspector’s recommendation.
Major Existing Developed Sites in the Green Belt

4. 11 Introduction: Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts (1995) indicates that limited infilling or redevelopment of major existing developed sites identified in adopted local plans, which meets the criteria in paragraph C3 or C4 of Annex C of the Guidance Note is not inappropriate development inside a Green Belt. Such sites would have a substantial footprint of development and buildings that cumulatively have a significant impact on the openness of the Green Belt. Where the site is in continuing use there should be an identifiable core of buildings that could accommodate limited infill which would help secure jobs and prosperity without further prejudicing the Green Belt. Alternatively the complete or partial redevelopment of the site would offer the opportunity for environmental improvement without adding to the impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land within it. A study has been carried out and East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, is identified as a Major Existing Developed Site in the Green Belt.

4. 10 Purpose: To provide the policy basis for appropriate limited infilling or redevelopment of major existing developed sites in the Green Belt.

Policy Co 6

Within Major Existing Developed Sites, as shown on the Proposals Map, limited infilling will be permitted within the defined area and partial or complete redevelopment of the site will be permitted provided that the following criteria are met:

A. Infilling should :

(i) have no greater impact on the purposes of including land within the Green Belt than the existing development;
(ii) not exceed the height of the existing buildings; and
(iii) not lead to a major increase in the developed proportion of the site.

B. Redevelopment should:

(i) have no greater impact than the existing development on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it, and where possible have less;
(ii) contribute to the achievement of the objectives for the use of land in the Green Belt set out in paragraph 1.6 of PPG2;
(iii) not exceed the height of the existing buildings; and
(iv) not occupy a larger area of the site than the existing buildings (unless this would achieve a reduction in height which would benefit visual amenity)

C. All development proposals should seek to prevent an increase in the use of the car and encourage alternative means of transport including provision for cyclists and pedestrians and where appropriate should include amelioration works in the surrounding area to counteract any adverse effects of traffic generation.

Potential new Major Existing Developed Sites, which were not considered in the Major Developed Sites Study (December 2000), will be considered in a review of the policy.

Amplification

(1) For the purpose of this policy, “infilling” means the filling of small gaps between built development. The defined area for limited infilling is shown on Figure 1.
(2) The relevant area for the purposes of (b)(iv) is the aggregate ground floor spaces with direct external access between wings of a building and areas of hardstanding.
(3) In considering proposals for the redevelopment of major developed sites, regard will be had not only to the footprint of the existing building but also to the character and dispersal of the proposed redevelopment. The location of new buildings will be decided having regard to the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it, the objectives for the use of land in the Green Belt, the main features of the landscape and the need to integrate the new development with its surroundings. Also, the site will be considered as a whole whether or not the buildings are to be redeveloped. The test in paragraph (b)(iv) relates to the redevelopment of the entire site; any proposals for partial redevelopment should be put forward in the context of comprehensive long-term plans for the site as a whole. Proposals will also be considered in the light of all material considerations, including for example visual amenity and the traffic and travel implications of redevelopment.
(4) In granting any planning permission for the redevelopment of major developed sites, the Council will consider whether to impose conditions to ensure that buildings which are not to be retained permanently are demolished as new buildings are erected, thus keeping the total developed area under control.

Horse Keeping

4. 12 Introduction: Horse keeping is an increasing leisure pursuit within the Borough. Consequently, there is a great demand for grazing, stabling and riding facilities which often bring the activity into conflict with agricultural, recreational and landscape interests. In the urban fringe, particularly where the viability of agricultural land is already undermined, horse owners are willing to purchase or rent paddocks at relatively high prices. This results in further fragmentation of agricultural land.

4. 13 Where there are large concentrations of horses, such as in the north of the Borough at Banstead and Tadworth, there are instances of the accumulation of shelters, stables, poorly managed grazing areas and loss of visual quality of the landscape. Existing riding facilities are continually under pressure as the numbers of horses increase. Public rights of way and common land are damaged, with increased danger on access roads to traffic and pedestrians alike. Consequently, the Borough Council will seek to regulate the cumulative effects of horse related developments in order to minimise the impact on other countryside users, the environment, and on the roads already used for access purposes.

4. 14 Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts (1995) provides that essential facilities genuinely required for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purpose of including land in it need not be inappropriate development. It gives as possible examples small stables and the following policy reflects this guidance.

4. 15 Purpose To safeguard the open character and functions of the Green Belt and to provide criteria against which proposals for small stables can be consistently assessed.

Policy Co 7

Permission will be granted for small stables in the Green Belt provided that they are genuinely required and do not have an unacceptably adverse effect on:

(i) land or holdings capable of agricultural or horticultural uses;
(ii) the landscape or the character or appearance of the area;
(iii) public highways, the public right of way network, or open spaces in the area; and
(iv) neighbouring residential properties.

Appropriate conditions or voluntary agreements will be used to mitigate problems arising from horse keeping activities.

Amplification

(1) For the purpose of this policy the term “small stable” shall be taken to refer to stables with up to, but no more than three looseboxes, where a loosebox measures up to 3.66 metres square (12' square). Any larger development will need to be justified by very special circumstances under Policy Co 1.
(2) In examining the impact on land or holdings capable of agricultural or horticultural use, particular attention will be paid to land of best and most versatile quality, which should only be developed if there is an overriding need for the development and lower graded land is not available.
(3) The Horse Keeping SPG (1998) explains the operation of this Policy in more detail. In dealing with proposals the Borough Council will also have regard to the Code of Practice for owners and riders “Horse Riding” produced by the Countryside Agency
(4) The Borough Council will continue to monitor the situation in the north of the Borough, in particular, and will encourage co-operation from those involved in equestrian activities in order to protect the environment of the countryside and other users, particularly in the urban fringe.
(5) The use and adaptation of rural buildings for stabling is encouraged by Policy Co 3, but the general presumption against building in the countryside applies to the provision of indoor riding facilities.

Figure 1: East Surrey Hospital – Defined area for limited infilling

Figure 1: East Surrey Hospital  Defined area for limited infilling

COUNTRYSIDE BEYOND THE METROPOLITAN GREEN BELT

Countryside in the Horley area

4. 16 Policy Co 8 replaced (2005) by Policy Hr 36 in Chapter 14.

Gatwick Airport Open Setting

4. 17 Policy Co 9 has been moved (2005) unaltered as Policy Hr 37 to Chapter 14.

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