PPA | The Barn, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury, BS37 6FF

professional planning appraisal PPA


The Barn, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury, BS37 6FF


Feb 2020


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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL


1.1 A PPA is a detailed appraisal of the development potential of a site by qualified

Chartered Planners. It is based on a desk-top review of the site; the relevant

planning policy; and planning history.

1.2 A planning appraisal is one of the most important and often under-rated planning

services provided to clients.

1.3 A well-researched and prepared appraisal will set out in an easy-to-read format,

the relevant opportunities and constraints applicable to a potential development


1.4 This planning appraisal covers all the relevant issues, with the core services as


i) Identifying planning policies relevant to a site and/or proposal;

ii) Review of planning history;

iii) Site assessment to identify planning opportunities and constraints;

iv) Advice on development potential and principles taking into account the

constraints, opportunities, site characteristics and policy context;

v) Potential site layouts.

1.5 The PPA report is paid for by the purchaser of the site upon completion (£700 + VAT

is added to the contract) – they then have a £700 credit to spend on planning with

the planning team if they pursue development.

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL


2.1 This site comprises a former stone-built barn, its immediate surrounds, an equestrian

paddock complete with stable building, and a central section of what is still likely

to be classified as agricultural land.

2.2 The site is located in open countryside, outside, but in proximity to, the defined

settlement boundary of Old Sodbury. The site is outside of the Green Belt but just

within the western edge of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty



3.1 The section of the site containing the barn has an extent planning permission (ref.

PK14/2581/F) for the conversion to a single dwelling with associated access, parking

and garden. This was granted in November 2014 and allowed the barn to be

refurbished (including a new roof) and converted into a one-bedroom house with

parking and private garden space.

3.2 This barn conversion permission (ref. PK14/2581/F) has been lawfully implemented

and now remains extant in perpetuity provided the site is not abandoned. Critically,

Lawful Development Certificate, ref. PK18/2774/CLP was issued by the Council in

September 2018 to ratify this position.

3.3 The original permission for the conversion was granted under the Council’s previous

set of planning policies, which were replaced in 2017. The more recent adopted

policy relevant to conversions of buildings in the countryside are more positive and

allow for modest enlargements, which means there is a good prospect of securing

a modest extension to the barn to gain additional floorspace.

3.4 Adopted Policy PSP40 - Residential Development in the Countryside notes now that

“any extension as part of the conversion or subsequently [should not be]

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

disproportionate to the original building” and that the character of the countryside

is not harmed.

3.5 Within PSP40 there is no definition of what is ‘disproportionate’, however, elsewhere

within the Local Plan, in relation to extensions to buildings in the Green Belt; policy

PSP7 notes that “as a general guide, an addition resulting in a volume increase up

to 30% of the original building would be likely to be proportionate.” Additions to

buildings (within the Green Belt in this instance) beyond a 30% increase in volume

would be less likely to gain planning permission.

3.6 The barn is not within the Green Belt, but is within the Cotswolds AONB, another form

of protected landscape, therefore, a similar approach would be taken. The existing

Barn is approximately 192 cubic metres in volume, therefore an increase of 30%

would take this volume to closer 250 cubic metres. Assuming a single-storey flat-

roofed construction up to 2.5m in height (external); this would allow for around 24

square metres of extra floorspace to extend the accommodation.

3.7 With careful consideration to the design and use of a mezzanine level with the

central barn structure; it would be possible to create space, as part of the

conversion, for 2/3 bedrooms, in total, as well as open-plan living space.

3.8 The equestrian paddock and facilities are part of the wider site, and planning

permissions ref. PK07/2143/F, granted in September 2007, provides the necessary

consent for the equine use of the land and for the timber stable building. This

permission covers the northern half of the site.

3.9 The southern half of the site (excluding the barn and its permitted residential

curtilage) does not benefit from the same equine permission and is therefore likely

to be still classified as agricultural land, like the equestrian paddock was prior to


3.10 However, with specific regard to the northern half; the presence of the existing

timber stables within the equine paddock does present some limited potential to

explore the possibility of a conversion to a rural business use/office or a holiday

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

let/cabin for tourism purposes. This be subject to the caveats contained in the

Council’s policy PSP28 – Rural Economy, including the requirement that “the

building is of permanent construction.” This ensures that conversion is possible

without the need for significant reconstruction.

Please note that the building’s

structure was not inspected for the purposes of this PPA.

3.11 The relevant elements of policy PSP28 note that:

“Sustainable new development which promotes a strong rural economy will be

acceptable in rural areas. Proposal(s) for business development outside the defined

urban areas and settlement boundaries will be acceptable:

1) In the case of new buildings or uses, where:

(a) for buildings, there are no existing suitable underused buildings reasonably

available and capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction;


(b) the proposed building is reasonably necessary for the purposes of the use and

is clearly designed for that purpose; and

(c) the development relates well to settlements or existing groups of buildings; and

(d) the development makes efficient use of the land in relation to its location, layout,

accessibility and surroundings; and

(e) the volume and nature of any goods sold would not have a significant adverse

effect on shopping facilities available in nearby settlements; and

(f) the proposal(s) is of a scale which is consistent with its function, use and rural


2) In the case of the conversion or re-use of existing buildings, where:

(a) the building is of permanent construction; and

(b) the buildings are in keeping with their surroundings in terms of character, form,

bulk and overall design; and

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

(c) the proposal(s) is of a scale which is consistent with its function, use and rural


3.12 The explanatory text to the policy is also helpful in relation to holiday lets, where it

notes that: -

“With respect to the conversion of existing rural buildings, where it can be

demonstrated that a business use of some description, including other tourism

related activities, cannot be achieved, conversion for holiday accommodation

would be preferable to a permanent residence in more remote locations, where

this would take pressure off other housing in rural areas for holiday accommodation.

Where buildings are to be used for holiday accommodation only, the Council will

impose conditions restricting occupancy.”

3.13 There is also some limited potential to look at the erection of new buildings for

business, including tourism such as additional holiday lets, within the equestrian

paddock. This area of development is governed, once again, by policy PSP28 –

Rural Economy. In this location (outside of the Green Belt), the key considerations

are listed above in the quoted policy, but summarised as (i) how connected the site

is to existing settlements, (ii) the scale, design and character of the proposed

buildings, and (ii) the impact of any new development on the AONB landscape. In

terms of the latter, please see Constraints section, below.

3.14 Finally, as the site is within open countryside, but is not isolated or remote from a

settlement i.e. the site is <500m from the Old Sodbury settlement boundary; there

could also be some limited scope to research the possibility of a Rural Housing

Exception Site. This essentially allows for affordable housing development to take

place where normal market housing would not normally be approved. The

Council’s policy CS19, is listed in full below.

“Proposals for permanent affordable housing to meet an identified local need

(including a small element of market housing where this will facilitate the successful

delivery of the affordable housing) will be permitted as an exception on sites where

market housing would not normally be acceptable.

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

Proposals should be:

1. supported by an approved housing needs survey

2. well related to a rural settlement

3. modest in scale and in keeping with the form and character of the settlement

and local landscape setting; and

4. supported or initiated by the appropriate Parish Council.

Permission will be subject to conditions, or a legal obligation will be negotiated, to

ensure that the affordable housing is reserved in perpetuity for those in local

affordable housing need.”

3.15 To explore this option, a Housing Needs Survey will need to be commissioned.

Should this study confirm a local need for affordable housing within the vicinity of

the site, chiefly arising from people with local connections; then, aside from the

constraints posed by the AONB designation; the next step would be to assess the

financial viability of such a development and whether or not the addition of some

market housing would be necessary to facilitate the provision of the affordable


3.16 It would also be strongly recommended to approach Sodbury Town Council at an

early stage, to seek support from the Parish, for an affordable housing development;

as their endorsement would be critical in the overall success of an application (as

stated above at CS19, point 4), and they may also have record of local need.


4.1 The site is not in a Conservation Area but and there are two Listed Buildings in

proximity, therefore their settings will need to be considered as part of any

development. The site is within Flood Zone 1 and therefore at low probability of

flooding from the sea and rivers.

4.2 The key considerations for any new development will be the connectivity of the site

to the existing settlement of Old Sodbury, but primarily, the site’s location within the

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

western periphery of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB),

which is a nationally important landscape.

4.3 The Council’s Local Plan also includes a landscape protection policy, PSP2, which

specifically notes “Within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

(AONB), great weight will be given to the conservation and enhancement of the

natural and scenic beauty of the landscape whilst taking account of the

biodiversity interest and the historic and cultural heritage. Where development is

proposed in a location which would affect the setting of the AONB, it must be

demonstrated that it would not adversely impact upon the natural beauty of the


4.4 The AONB designation, will greatly reduce the scale and density of any

development of new buildings on the site.

4.5 All development proposals on this site will need to demonstrate, in a proportionate

manner, that they do not unacceptably impact on the protected landscape. For

modest extension(s) to the barn; these studies will reflect the scale and visibility of

the extensions proposed, i.e. a desk-top study of important views (if any) in and out

of the site, the visibility of the barn and any additions, and how the design has

successfully mitigated any impact.

4.6 For any new-build development on the equestrian facilities at the north end of the

site, which is more remote from the existing buildings on Badminton Road and Old

Sodbury itself; this study is likely to take the form of a Landscape Visual Impact

Assessment, prepared by a competent professional. The design approach would

have to take account of the protected landscape designation.

4.7 The barn conversion is largely constrained by the limits of the extant consent, in

terms of vehicular access point, parking location and the extent of the residential

curtilage allotted to the new dwelling. Keeping these elements the same with any

new planning application (seeking extensions as well as the conversion); will

minimise risk.

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

4.8 The Council applies the National Space Standards for new dwellings, and these

would need to be adhered to (see the Technical Requirements as well as the

GIA/storage requirements in Table 1).

4.9 The site has existing trees/hedgerows, thus, there could be potential for wildlife

within the wider site and previous reporting has already identified bats in relation to

the barn. As such, any future planning application for redevelopment (aside from

the barn conversion) would most likely need to be accompanied by an Extended

Phase 1 Ecological Survey by a qualified ecologist. Depending on the results of the

Phase 1 survey, other protected species surveys may be required. Preliminary

assessments can take place at any time; however, protected species and bat

activity/emergence surveys can only take place between April and October with

May – August being the optimal survey period. Consultation with an ecologist at an

early stage would be advised to ascertain the works required and any potential

mitigation measures that may be necessary. Planning permission for

redevelopment cannot be granted in advance of the survey results.

4.10 There is also a footpath in the middle of the site running east-west, linking from

Commonmead Lane, across the site, to fields to the east of the site. It can be seen

on Google Earth maps and Streetview images labelled as “Frome Valley Walkway”.

This may be a Public Right of Way or similar (the definitive Council map will need to

be checked) that may need to be considered as part of any plans.


5.1 The site has good potential to deliver a barn conversion with additional extensions

to increase the resulting residential floor space.

5.2 The northern section of the site can continue to provide a role as a site for equestrian

use complete with stables and ancillary facilities.

5.3 The northern section of the site also has some limited potential for alternative uses,

which will first need to be explored through further detailed survey work and

reporting. These alternatives include (in order of potential planning difficulty): -

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

1. Conversion of the stables to form a single holiday let cabin;

2. Some limited development in associated with converting/extending the stables

to a rural business/employment use;

3. In addition to No.1 above, some further development of additional single-storey

buildings to be used for holiday lets; or

4. Very limited possibility of being suitable for a rural exceptions (affordable)

housing site.

5.4 The Council operates a Community Infrastructure Levy, therefore any new

floorspace created will be subject to a charge (see CIL information pages on the

Council’s website https://beta.southglos.gov.uk/community-infrastructure-levy-cil/),

payable upon commencement of the development.

Development Principles and Requirements

5.5 With regards to the barn conversion the starting point is the extant permission. This

establishes the principle of residential use. It also sets a baseline for other elements

such as the extent of domestic garden the Council will support, along with agreed

locations for vehicle access and parking areas.

5.6 The scale and height of any new additions to the barn would need to respect the

host building and the surrounding protected AONB landscape. Any extension(s) to

the barn are likely to be restricted to single storey.

5.7 Additionally, any new openings in the building, including within the pitched roof i.e.

rooflights and/or small dormer windows, will need to take account of the residential

amenity of the neighbouring occupiers.

5.8 Parking will need to comply with the adopted parking standards (1no. space for a

one and two bed house and 2no. spaces for a three-bed house). Secure and fully

enclosed cycle storage in a convenient/accessible location will also be required.

5.9 The scheme will need to comply with the Nationally Described Space Standard

(Technical Housing Standards); and provide refuse/recycling storage.

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The Barn & Equestrian Facilities, Commonmead Lane, Old Sodbury PROFESSIONAL PLANNING APPRAISAL

5.10 In respect to the equestrian facilities at the northern end of the site and options 1

and 2 listed above at 5.3, with the conversion of the existing stables into a business

use (including tourism/holiday let), the main requirement would be to ensure that a

structural survey of the existing building demonstrates that the building is of

permanent and substantial construction suitable for conversion to the desired end

use. Further highways development principles will need to ensure that the use has

suitable access (visibility/size), parking, and turning.

5.11 Recommendations from any ecological reporting would also need to inform any

proposals for the conversion of the building, similarly to the barn conversion.

5.12 The development principles of the other options, which involve new development

and new buildings, will be informed by the feasibility, need, and landscape impact

surveys, outlined above.

Application Report/Survey Requirements

5.13 To submit for a new permission for the barn conversion, to include extensions to the

building, an application will require the standard plans, forms and ownership

certificates. Additional items are likely to include: -

A drainage scheme;

▪ A landscaping scheme and maintenance plan;

▪ Details of proposed materials to be used in the conversion and extension


▪ Details of parking space(s), access, and turning area(s); and

▪ Details of Bat Enhancement Measures (found within the original Phase 1

survey carried out to support the residential conversion permission).

6. SKETCH BLOCK PLAN 6.1 Potential site layout with red line boundary.

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