Fallback Success for Replacement Green Belt Home

Bell Cornwell have secured planning permission at appeal for a replacement dwelling in the Woking Green Belt. Success was ‘built’ on the fallback position we’d established via prior approval for an additional storey on the existing building alongside extensions to the side and rear.

As we all know, achieving a significant increase in floorspace for a dwelling in the Green Belt is a challenge due to the strict planning policy restrictions which do not allow disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original dwelling. To achieve the aspirations of our client, a strategy had to be developed.

The Fallback Position

Permitted development rights can provide opportunities to unlock development in a range of situations, including using them as a fallback position to support an alternative proposal. To establish the fallback position in this instance, a certificate of proposed lawful development for a side/rear extension, front porch and rear dormer roof extension was secured alongside two prior approvals to allow for a single storey rear extension and the construction of an additional storey.  The latter being pivotal for our case later, as we could demonstrate that more could be achieved on the site.

Prior Approval for upward extension

By utilising the new permitted development rights (read more about the changes in our article Onwards and Upwards) we were able to secure consent for a two-storey property at this site. The prior approval process still requires the Council to consider a range of criteria including design and the impact on neighbours, which were all addressed in our submission thereby allowing the Council to approve the application.


The planning application assessed the proposal against Green Belt policy, and it was accepted in our submission that, in usual circumstances, the proposal would be a disproportionate addition over and above the size of the original dwellinghouse.  However, we clearly set out how the fallback position would have a greater impact on the Green Belt as it would have a larger volume, footprint, and height than the proposed replacement dwelling.  Notwithstanding the evidence, the Council concluded that the proposal would negatively impact the openness of the Green Belt leading to a refusal of planning permission.


Consequently, an appeal was submitted to address the Council’s concerns relating to the Green Belt and whether there was a ‘real prospect’ of the fallback position being implemented.  Comprehensive plans were required to show how the multiple approvals could work together to create one enlarged home, which we argued would have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt.

The Inspector acknowledged that the extent of harm would be limited given the relatively modest scale of the proposal and the containment provided by the pattern of residential development in the vicinity.  As she worked through her decision, she agreed with us that the fallback position was a material consideration and there was a ‘real prospect’ of it being implemented, which would result in a disjointed and awkward appearance.  By comparison, the proposed scheme was considered to be of a more coherent and considered design, visually acceptable within the local area and will provide the obvious environmental benefits associated with new builds.  The Inspector gave significant weight in favour of the new proposal, concluding that very special circumstances existed which justified the development and on that basis planning permission was approved.

Our clients are now looking forward to starting to build out their contemporary, environmentally friendly, family home.

Bell Cornwell can offer strategic advice as to how to comply with the relevant criteria as well as handle the necessary submissions on your behalf.

Principal Planner, Kristina Wall

Kate Stoddart
Local Authority
Woking Borough Council
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