Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft

Dwellings in the Countryside

DM 45- 47

Dwellings in the countryside

Core Strategy Policy

CS33 Smaller settlements and countryside

Replacement Local Plan Policies

GDP/1 Preferred locations for development

H/8 Residential development in the countryside

H/9 Rural workers dwellings

Policy Intentions:

  • To steer new development in the rural areas to sustainable locations in the service and infill villages.
  • Restrict isolated residential development in the countryside unless there are special circumstances such as replacement dwellings, the conversion of rural buildings, or essential rural workers dwellings.
  • Protect the countryside from inappropriate sized dwellings that would harm the character of the area. 


These policies cover the exceptions that allow residential development in the countryside and are largely based on previous policies contained in the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan, taking account of the Core Strategy.  

Policy DM 45: Replacement dwellings in the countryside

The replacement of a single permanent dwelling in the countryside will be permitted, provided that:

  • the dwelling it replaces has an existing lawful permanent residential use, has not been abandoned and has not been granted planning permission for the conversion from a non-residential building;
  • the dwelling is not listed or identified as being of local or regional historical importance; and
  • the replacement dwelling is within the same curtilage, is of a similar scale and its design and siting will not harm the character of the surrounding area or the living conditions of its own or adjoining occupiers.

Note: If the replacement is in the Green Belt it will additionally need to comply with policy DM 13 (Development within the Green Belt).

This policy does not apply to residential caravans or mobile homes.

Policy DM 46: The conversion ofredundant rural buildings to residential use

The conversion or re-use of redundant rural buildings (as defined in the glossary) for residential use will be permitted provided that:

  • they are of permanent and substantial construction and capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction;
  • any extension as part of the conversion or subsequently should not be disproportionate to the original building and all proposals should respect the scale and character of the building and its setting;
  • the building is of traditional construction and contributes to the local rural character;
  • all reasonable attempts have been made to secure an appropriate economic use; or the residential use is a subordinate part of a business reuse;
  • the proposal would result in an enhancement of the immediate setting, and the impact of external facilities, e.g. curtilage treatment, parking is minimal and landscaping respects the local rural character; and
  • it would not have a significant adverse effect on the living conditions of adjoining occupiers or adversely affect the operation of working farms.

Notes: See glossary for a definition of rural building.

To meet the test of 'capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction' 70% of the exterior walls should be standing and in good condition.

Reasonable attempts to secure an appropriate economic use will involve the applicant demonstrating that the building has been actively marketed both on site and online for employment uses for a minimum of 6 months at a reasonable price which reflects the use being advertised.

A clear explanation as to the circumstances leading to the building becoming redundant will need to accompany any planning application.

Traditional buildings would include those constructed of natural stone and tiles but exclude modern steel and block-work buildings.

Policy DM 47: Rural workers dwellings

DM47 rural workers dwelling

The erection of dwellings in the countryside for full time workers in agriculture, forestry, or other land-based rural businesses will be permitted provided that the applicant provides an independent appraisal that demonstrates:

  • the dwelling is required to satisfy a clearly established existing and long-term functional need to live permanently at or within the immediate area of their work;
  • the agricultural, forestry or land based use (excluding other elements) have been established for at least three years, have been profitable for at least one of them, are currently financially sound, and have a clear prospect of remaining so;
  • the need could not be fulfilled by another existing or recently disposed dwelling on the unit or any other accommodation or building capable of conversion in the area which is suitable and available for occupation by the worker concerned;
  • the proposal is satisfactorily sited in relation to the agricultural or forestry unit and, wherever possible, is sited within a hamlet or existing group of buildings (in particular, that the need for a new vehicular access is where practical avoided); and
  • the proposed floor space of the dwelling does not exceed 150 square metres.

Where the need and location for an agricultural dwelling have been accepted under the above criteria except for the economic viability of the unit, the council may permit temporary accommodation for up to three years in a caravan or mobile home, provided that there is clear evidence that the enterprise has been planned on a sound financial basis with a firm intention and ability to develop it.

Planning permission will be granted only subject to a condition limiting occupation to the agricultural workers and their dependants. Where a second or further dwelling is permitted on a holding, a condition will be imposed on any unrestricted existing dwellings to similarly limit their occupation.

The removal of an occupancy condition will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that there is no need for the dwelling on the unit or in the locality, nor is a need likely to arise in the foreseeable future, and that there has been a genuine and unsuccessful attempt to market the property at a realistic price.

DM 48

Strategic gaps


Core Strategy Policy

CS19 Strategic Gaps

Replacement Local Plan Policy


Policy Intentions:

  • To maintain the separate identity of settlements.
  • To prevent coalescence.
  • Protect the landscape setting of settlements.
  • Maintain the predominantly open or undeveloped character of the gap. 


Protection of strategic gaps is set out in Core Strategy Policy CS19, with their detailed boundaries and policy approach agreed through the Sites and Policies Plan. The protection accorded by national Green Belt policy means that strategic gaps are not necessary or appropriate within the Green Belt. 

Policy DM 48: Strategic gaps

Development within strategic gaps as shown on the Proposals Map will be permitted where:

  • the open or undeveloped character of the gap would not be significantly adversely affected;
  • the separate identity and character of the settlements would not be harmed; and
  • the landscape setting of the settlements would not be harmed.

The likely impact of the proposal in conjunction with any other developments with extant planning consent will be taken into account.