Questions over whether Green Belt ‘eco home’ meets planning rules

Plans to build an eco-house into the cliff face of a disused quarry have been put on hold to allow councillors the chance to visit the site in a Barnsley village before making their minds up on whether to allow the development.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 9:20 am
Updated Thursday, 24th October 2019, 6:13 pm
Deferred: Councillors want a site visit before deciding on this eco house design

Consultant Paul Butler told a meeting of the council’s planning board that the proposal for a site in the rural village of High Hoyland would create a sustainable home, built to Passiv Haus standards, meaning it would be ecologically friendly, and said: “The scheme is unique, it is exemplary, a grand design and has that ‘wow’ factor.”

The house could not be regarded as setting a precedent for other developments because the circumstances of the site and design were unique, he said.

The scale of the building had already been heavily scaled back and the final plans had won support from planners.

Planning officials agreed that the plans should be approved, but councillors decided to defer their decision for a site visit after hearing of concerns from those living in the village.

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The site is within the Green Belt, meaning tight planning conditions have to be met to win approval but speaker Max Daker, who lives nearby, told councillors he believed it did not meet the ‘very special circumstances’ criteria needed.

“Being airtight and energy efficient is not special,” he said.

He also raised concerns about arrangements for sewers and access to the site, which is reached by an access road.

Councillors were told the proposals had been before a design panel before winning professional backing from council officials, with its location built into a hillside helping to reduce the effect of the building on the openness of suroundings.

When pros and cons had been considered, the professional opinion was that factors “in favour slightly outweigh those against”.

Coun Paul Hand-Davis said: “I don’t think it is an outstanding design which would allow it to slip the net, which is what they are trying to do. I think we should take a look at it.”

Coun Dave Griffin said the design was “imaginative”.

A site visit will take place before the application goes back before a future planning board meeting.