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Utopian Values ESRC Seminar - Nottingham 23 rd February 2008

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Utopia from the Bottom Up? DIY eco-settlements and UK land-use planning, 1996-2008 Mike Hannis Utopian Values ESRC Seminar - Nottingham 23 rd February 2008. John Prescott 1999: Kings Hill decision ( European Convention on Human Rights) ‏.

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Utopia from the Bottom Up?

DIY eco-settlements and UK land-use planning, 1996-2008

Mike Hannis

Utopian Values ESRC Seminar - Nottingham 23rd February 2008
john prescott 1999 kings hill decision european convention on human rights
John Prescott 1999: Kings Hill decision(European Convention on Human Rights)‏
  • This way of life has been carefully considered in the terms of Article 9 protecting the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. However, it is concluded that, while the appellants’ desire to live in their chosen fashion is strongly held, it does not, as such, represent a thought or matter of conscience akin to a religious belief that would be afforded protection under this Article.
  • On the question of the effect on Article 8 rights to respect for private and family life and the home, the Secretary of State agrees ... that dismissal of the appeals would represent serious interference with those rights.
  • the Secretary of State concludes that the interference with the appellants’ human rights under Article 8 arising from a refusal ... coupled with the lack of significant harm to issues of public interest ... arising from the development, constitute material considerations sufficient, in the exceptional circumstances of this appeal, to justify determining the appeal otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the development plan. Planning permission will therefore be granted.
john selwyn gummer tinker s bubble decision 1996 later appealed

Any the rural economy would be negligible, since minimal agricultural and other produce would be available for wider consumption.

As to the issue of sustainable development, the view is taken that the provision of groups of tents or similar residential accommodation in the open countryside merely to provide a subsistence living for the occupants, is not a practical pattern of long term land-use. Insofar as the appeal development may be sustainable, it could only be so for the occupants and not in any wider sense.

The issue therefore has negligible weight in the determination of these appeals.

John Selwyn Gummer Tinker's Bubble Decision 1996(Later appealed)‏
pps 7 2004 agricultural and forestry dwellings

One of the few circumstances in which isolated residential development may be justified is when accommodation is required to enable agricultural, forestry and certain other full-time workers to live at, or in the immediate vicinity of, their place of work. It will often be as convenient and more sustainable for such workers to live in nearby towns or villages, or suitable existing dwellings, so avoiding new and potentially intrusive development in the countryside. However, there will be some cases where the nature and demands of the work concerned make it essential for one or more people engaged in the enterprise to live at, or very close to, the site of their work. Whether this is essential in any particular case will depend on the needs of the enterprise concerned and not on the personal preferences or circumstances of any of the individuals involved.

Functional and financial test to be applied...

PPS 7 (2004) agricultural and forestry dwellings
pps7 the functional test

...necessary to establish whether it is essential for the proper functioning of the enterprise for one or more workers to be readily available at most times.

Such a requirement might arise, for example, if workers are needed to be on hand day and night:

(i) in case animals or agricultural processes require essential care at short notice;

(ii) to deal quickly with emergencies that could otherwise cause serious loss of crops or products, for example, by frost damage or the failure of automatic systems.


Requirements arising from food processing, as opposed to agriculture, cannot be used to justify an agricultural dwelling.


If a functional requirement is established, it will then be necessary to consider the number of workers needed to meet it, for which the scale and nature of the enterprise will be relevant.

PPS7: The functional test
pps7 the financial test

...clear evidence of a firm intention and ability to develop the enterprise concerned (significant investment in new farm buildings is often a good indication of intentions)‏

...clear evidence that the proposed enterprise has been planned on a sound financial basis

New permanent accommodation cannot be justified on agricultural grounds unless the farming enterprise is economically viable.

A hard-won new concession...

Some enterprises which aim to operate broadly on a subsistence basis, but which nonetheless provide wider benefits (e.g. in managing attractive landscapes or wildlife habitats), can be sustained on relatively low financial returns.

PPS7: the financial test
alan woolnough planning inspector landmatters decision 2007

There is no doubt that the appeal development conflicts with established polices designed to constrain residential development in the countryside. ... Moreover, I consider that the scheme fails to comply with the terms of the functional and financial tests.

BUT ...

Profitability and self-sufficiency, whilst important, are not the only measures of success of a project of this kind. ... I find there to be considerable ecological, educational and cultural benefits in further exploring permaculture. In my view, these do not derive from the underpinning ethos of communal living, which is unlikely to be embraced enthusiastically by all but a small minority, but rather from the development of and experimentation with sustainable technologies and agricultural practices which that way of life facilitates.

The advancement of permaculture and sustainable ways of living facilitated by this project has sufficient potential value to outweigh the limited harm to other interests of acknowledged importance. I find justification in this case for a departure from relevant local and national policy sufficient to grant planning permission.

Alan Woolnough, Planning InspectorLandmatters Decision, 2007