Policy 52 – Pembrokeshire County Council

Policy 52 ‘Low Impact Development Making a Positive Contribution’ provides a context for permitting development in the countryside as an exception to normal planning policyother than that which is already possible under Agricultural Workers dwelling policies.

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Normally planning policy strictly controls development in the countryside but the Authorities consider that exemplars of sustainable living may be permitted. Carrying out low impact activities on a site and ensuring that the buildings associated with it are low impact is not considered sufficient to allow development in the countryside because all development should be sustainable, irrespective of  where it is located. This is why the Authorities expect any such development to prove that it will provide positive benefits, in addition to being low impact. Proposals need to be tied to the land and provide sufficient livelihood for the occupants. One or more households  can be involved in an individual proposal.

…so begins this fairly well known policy document responsible for so much interest in Wales, the UK and the rest of the world. It is currently available to download here and is just one part of the wider joint unitary development plan (policy 52 of 135!)

Obviously the focus bending the countryside planning laws is on ‘exemplars of sustainable living’, and that it isn’t enough just to be ‘low impact’, you also have to be making a ‘positive contribution’ as well.

Dont forget that across the UK, countryside development has been effectively prohibited since the end of World War II; only really open to agricultural purposes and large property developers. While there are some general exemptions in the wider National Planning Policy Framework, from what you hear it seems it is pretty difficult in practice to act on these. Should sustainable self-building be something that is only possible in the greenbelt?

For any potential flaws, it seems hard to consider Policy 52 as anything other than a positive at this stage, and one we might like to see the lessons from which spread more widely.

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