Chapter 6 Proposals
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6.3 THE RURAL ECONOMY AND THE COUNTRYSIDE
   
General policies for development in the countryside
RUR 1 Definition of Areas Covered
RUR 2 Development in Open Countryside: General
RUR 3 Development in Open Countryside: Control
RUR 4 Re-Use of Rural Buildings: General
RUR 5 Re-Use of Rural Buildings: Residential
RUR 6 Large Houses in the Countryside: Conversions
RUR 7 New Buildings in the Grounds of Large House Conversions
RUR 8 Advertisements in the Countryside
RUR 9 Roadside Facilities
RUR 10 Telecommunications
RUR 11 Agricultural Development
 
Employment Development in the Countryside and Rural Settlements
RUR 12 Business in Rural Settlements
RUR 13 Business in Open Countryside (Exceptions)
RUR 14 Business on Edge of Settlements (Local Needs Exceptions)
RUR 15 Expansion of Existing Lawful Employment Uses
RUR 16 Loss of Employment Uses
 
Shopping Development in the Countryside and Rural Settlements
RUR 17 Protection of Rural Shops & Post Offices
RUR 18 Small-Scale Shopping Development
RUR 19 Garden Centres & Farm Shops
 
Housing Development in the Countryside and Rural Settlements
RUR 20 Housing in Rural Settlements
RUR 21 Affordable Housing: Proportion of New Development
RUR 22 Affordable Housing: Exceptions Policy
RUR 23 Replacement of Existing Dwellings
RUR 24 Renovation & Extension of Existing Dwellings
RUR 25 Staff Dwellings Associated with Institutions
RUR 26 New Dwellings for Agricultural Occupation
RUR 27 New Dwellings for Agricultural Retail Outlets
RUR 28 New Dwellings for Horse Related Developments.
 
Leisure and Recreation Development in the Countryside and Rural Settlements
RUR 29 Formal Recreation Facilities
RUR 30 Informal Recreation Facilities
RUR 31 Blackwater Valley
RUR 32 Basingstoke Canal
RUR 33 Camping and Caravanning
RUR 34 Horse related development
 
Social Infrastructure and Services
RUR 35 Social Infrastructure & Services (Permissive)
 
Motor Sports
RUR 36 Motor Sports: Exceptions
 
Use of Dwellings for Business
RUR 37 Use of Dwellings for Business
 
Provision of Gypsy Sites
RUR 38 Specified Sites
 
Introduction
The policies in this section of the plan follow the national guidance prepared Planning Policy Guidance Note 7: The Countryside and Rural Economy. The priorities are to encourage appropriate economic activity, to conserve and improve the landscape, to encourage opportunities for recreation and to conserve the diversity of wildlife, particularly by protecting and enhancing habitats.
Much of the rural area of the District is subject to special consideration under the conservation policies of the plan, in order to protect landscape, wildlife habitats and historic settlements. The general countryside however is also worthy of protection for its own sake.
The maintenance of a healthy rural economy is a particularly important issue now that agriculture is no longer such a dominant element of the economy. Without alternative economic activities, rural communities will suffer. The business needs of agriculture may also occasionally give rise to a requirement for new buildings or other development. The policies in this section therefore aim to encourage further economic activity in rural areas without harming the overall appearance and character of the countryside. Within the District, MoD activities form a significant part of the local economy in both urban and rural areas, and development on MoD sites may contribute towards the rural economy.
Rural communities can also suffer due to the lack of affordable housing and closure of services such as village shops and schools. New affordable housing and new village services are therefore encouraged by the policies. Any new development in rural areas however should be small in scale and related to local needs: the location of major new development in rural areas establishes the need to travel to reach many services, and encourages reliance on the private car.
The countryside of the District is also an important resource for recreation, providing opportunities for informal activities such as walking and cycling for the residents of surrounding urban areas. More formal activities such as golf courses and equestrian centres can also be appropriate in the countryside.
Policy R6 of the County Structure Plan Review 1996-2011 suggests that either north-east or south-east Hampshire would be suitable for a holiday village. The "new generation" of holiday villages is characterised by low density, self-contained holiday accommodation, with high quality buildings and landscape. Such villages provide for short break activity holidays throughout the year in a rural, wooded environment. This major form of tourist development could bring considerable economic and other benefits with it. As only one facility of this type is likely to be required in Hampshire, reliance is placed on the Structure Plan policy for the control of proposals.
 
 
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RUR 1 THE POLICIES IN THIS SECTION OF THE PLAN APPLY TO THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS OF BARTLEY HEATH, BROAD OAK, CROOKHAM VILLAGE, CRONDALL, DOGMERSFIELD, EVERSLEY CENTRE, EVERSLEY CROSS, EVERSLEY STREET, LOWER COMMON, UP-GREEN, EWSHOT, GREYWELL, HARTFORDBRIDGE, HAZELEY, HAZELEY BOTTOM, HAZELEY LEA, HECKFIELD, HOUND GREEN, LONG SUTTON, MATTINGLEY, MILL LANE CRONDALL, RAF ODIHAM, ROTHERWICK, SOUTH WARNBOROUGH, NORTH WARNBOROUGH, WINCHFIELD COURT (FORMERLY WINCHFIELD HOSPITAL) AND WINCHFIELD HURST AS DEFINED IN THIS PLAN, AND TO THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE.
The settlement boundaries have been drawn:
i) To enclose the built fabric of the settlement or the separate clusters of dwellings;
ii) To reflect the built form of the settlement or cluster of dwellings;
iii) To use wherever possible physical features on the ground that are identifiable on Ordnance Survey maps.
Normally settlement boundaries include gardens, but where domestic curtilages extend well beyond the built fabric, they may be drawn more closely around the dwellings themselves to avoid opening too widely the opportunities for further development and arousing unreasonable expectations as to the development that might be acceptable. An exception is where land is allocated in the Plan for development, when it is included in the defined boundary in anticipation of its incorporation into the built fabric of the settlement.
 
 
 
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General Policies for Development in the Countryside
RUR 2 DEVELOPMENT IN THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE, OUTSIDE THE DEFINED SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT IT IS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR BY OTHER POLICIES IN THE LOCAL PLAN, AND THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE A SIGNIFICANT DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON THE CHARACTER AND SETTING OF THE COUNTRYSIDE BY VIRTUE OF ITS SITING, SIZE AND PROMINENCE IN THE LANDSCAPE.
 
 
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The local plan proposals map distinguishes the built up areas of towns and villages from the surrounding open countryside by means of settlement policy boundaries. The whole of the area outside these boundaries is classified as countryside.
In addition to the areas designated for their landscape or ecological value, much of the countryside of the District is of a small scale and intimate, enclosed character: this should be respected by any new development. This countryside is of strategic significance in controlling the sprawl and separating the built up areas of the Blackwater Valley Towns, Reading and Basingstoke. It is also a valuable informal recreation resource for the residents of these urban areas.
The Council's aim is to protect this countryside for its own sake by minimising the impact of new development on agricultural and forestry land, mineral resources, and areas of historic, landscape or nature conservation interest. Pressures for development are in conflict with the protection of the countryside resource, and policies of restraint are required to protect its character. Central Government guidance in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7: The Countryside and Rural Economy, emphasises that building in the open countryside, away from existing settlements or allocated areas, should be strictly controlled and that priority should be given to restraint in designated areas.
The countryside can normally accommodate some small-scale economic development without detriment, provided that it is sensitively related in design and location to the existing settlement pattern and landscape. Some diversification from strictly agricultural uses within complexes of farm buildings, for example small-scale industrial units, will be considered as part of the rural economy. Such uses will still be judged according to their impact on landscape, ecology, general amenity of the countryside and the objectives of sustainability.
 
 
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RUR 3 DEVELOPMENTS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE WHICH ARE PROVIDED FOR BY OTHER POLICIES IN THIS PLAN, WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  (i) The countryside is protected and maintained through the retention, creation or enhancement of features of nature conservation or landscape importance;
  (ii) Any existing buildings or structures can be retained if of architectural quality;
  (iii) The site is satisfactorily landscaped to reduce its impact on the surrounding countryside;
  (iv) The criteria of the specific Policy by which the development proposed may be permitted are also met.
     
This policy builds on RUR 2 by specifying particular environmental considerations that may be taken into account when dealing with applications for development in the countryside. Any requirements for protection or enhancement works for landscape or conservation, in association with development, would be reasonably related to the proposed development.
 
 
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Re-use of Rural Buildings
RUR 4 PROPOSALS FOR THE RE-USE OF RURAL BUILDINGS (OTHER THAN LARGE HOUSES) FOR COMMUNITY, BUSINESS, INDUSTRIAL (B2), RECREATION OR TOURISM RELATED ACTIVITIES WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT THE EXISTING BUILDING CURRENTLY ENJOYS A LAWFUL USE AND THE CONVERSION WILL NOT RESULT IN ANY SERIOUS HARM TO ESSENTIAL FEATURES OR THE CHARACTER OF THE BUILDING OR ITS IMMEDIATE SURROUNDS, AND THAT THE FORM, BULK AND GENERAL DESIGN ARE IN KEEPING WITH THE SURROUNDING COUNTRYSIDE.
     
The re-use (change of use from an existing use, or use of a disused building) of farm buildings can produce a valuable means of diversifying the rural economy, providing new jobs needed in rural areas and encouraging local enterprise. Re-use of existing buildings can also help to reduce the demand for new building in the countryside. Some farm buildings may be of historic or architectural value, and in these cases, adaptation to a new use can be particularly useful if it is a means of protecting the building from falling into disrepair. The removal or enhancement of unsightly farm buildings will be encouraged.
Rural buildings relate to any buildings (other than large houses) outside the settlement boundaries and within the defined rural settlements.
 
 
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This policy will only apply where the original building was legitimately allowed for a genuine use. Before permitting development under this policy, the local planning authority may investigate the past history of the building to make sure that no misuse of agricultural permitted development rights has occurred.
It is important however that such development does not take place on such a scale that the existing rural character is harmed. It may not be possible to convert large complexes of buildings without changing the character of their surroundings, and larger commercial enterprises may result in excessive traffic on narrow rural lanes. It is also important that the design of such conversions is appropriate to their rural location, and that the conversion does not lead to any adverse effects on areas particularly sensitive due to their ecological, historic or landscape value. All proposals will need to conform to other policies of this plan, particularly RUR 2, RUR 3 and the conservation policies.
The overall appearance and structure of farm buildings of historic value should not be altered by conversion. For this reason, small-scale employment uses such as workshops, craft studios, "telecottages" or light industry, or community uses, are often preferable to residential uses, because there is usually more scope for flexibility in design and structure. See policy RUR 5, which deals specifically with residential conversions.
In some cases the local planning authority may grant planning permission subject to one or more conditions limiting the period for which the building can be used, restricting use to a particular firm or individual, or removing permitted development rights in order to control intensification of use on the site.
This policy will not be used to prevent the renewal of temporary permissions, but the existence of temporary consent does not justify replacement with a permanent dwelling.
 
 
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RUR 5 PROPOSALS FOR THE RE-USE OF RURAL BUILDINGS FOR RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT A PROPOSAL FOR RESIDENTIAL USE WOULD BE LESS HARMFUL THAN A COMMERCIAL USE TO THE CHARACTER OF THE BUILDING OR THE SURROUNDING COUNTRYSIDE AND:
  a) The applicant has made every attempt to secure suitable business re-use, and the application is supported by a statement of the efforts which have been made; or
  b) Residential conversion is part of a scheme for business re-use within that particular complex of buildings.
     
New housing in the countryside is normally strictly controlled under the policies of this plan and the advice of PPG7 on the Countryside and Rural Economy. New scattered, isolated housing can have a detrimental impact on the countryside. This can be the case even if the proposal re-uses an existing building, particularly if extensive alteration or re-building is required. Residential conversion can often have detrimental effects on the fabric and character of historic buildings. Conversion may be the key to protecting historic buildings, but it must be sympathetic to the original character. In addition, the creation of a residential curtilage around newly converted buildings can have a detrimental effect on the character of the countryside. It is important that the need for such buildings can be justified, in order not to create large inappropriate buildings in the countryside.
   
 
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Large Houses in the Countryside
RUR 6 PROPOSALS FOR THE CONVERSION OF LARGE HOUSES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE TO BUSINESS, INSTITUTIONAL, HOTEL OR RESIDENTIAL USES WILL BE PERMITTED, PROVIDED THAT THE CHARACTER OF THE PROPERTY AND ITS SETTING, AND THE AMENITY OF THE WIDER AREA, ARE NOT ADVERSELY AFFECTED.
 
Large houses* in their own grounds, which as a result of their size are no longer suitable for single family occupation, may be retained through conversion to uses such as business headquarters, schools, hotels, nursing homes or flats. It is important however that such conversions reflect the original character of the building, and that the surrounding land is maintained or enhanced. Views of the building from surrounding land should be protected. A landscape management plan to the approval of the local planning authority may be requested for the grounds or the immediate setting of the proposed buildings.
Extensions or external alterations, which would adversely affect the setting and views of the building, will not normally be permitted. Any extensions to existing institutional uses in the countryside will be considered according to their scale and appearance, and their impact on the surrounding area.
* For the purpose of clarification "large house" means a property which was or is a large country house or stately home.
 
 
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RUR 7 PROPOSALS FOR NEW BUILDINGS IN THE GROUNDS, ASSOCIATED WITH A PERMITTED USE OF A LARGE HOUSE, WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  (i) The proposal secures the retention of a listed building or building of local interest; or
  (ii) Any new building reflects or complements the original building; and
  (iii) The setting of the building within the landscape is maintained or enhanced; and
  (iv) There are no suitable buildings within the curtilage or grounds which could be converted in order to meet the requirement; and
  (v) Important vistas or open spaces are retained.
 
Where large houses in the countryside have been converted to uses such as hotels, employment or institutional purposes, in some cases these will require new buildings in the grounds. Such developments will only be acceptable where they are of a scale and design which is in keeping with the property and its setting, and where they do not have any detrimental impact on their surrounding area. A landscape management plan for the approval of the local planning authority may be requested for the grounds or the immediate setting of the proposed buildings. Staff dwellings in relation to institutional uses are covered by policy RUR 25.
 
 
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Advertisements in the Countryside
RUR 8 PROPOSALS FOR ADVERTISEMENTS IN THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE AND RURAL SETTLEMENTS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS THEY RESPECT THE INTERESTS OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND OF AMENITY ASSESSED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LOCAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AREA, INCLUDING THE SCENIC, HISTORIC, ARCHITECTURAL OR CULTURAL FEATURES WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO THE DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER OF THE LOCALITY.
   
The quality of the environment can be adversely affected by the introduction of shop and other signs which are out of character in design, colour, materials or illumination. This problem is particularly acute in the countryside and in villages, which have historic and interesting streets containing shops and commercial properties. In assessing the impact on amenity, the local characteristics of the neighbourhood will be taken into account. In particular the proposed sign should be:
i) Sympathetic to the character of the countryside in terms of its siting, height, materials and illumination; and
ii) Appropriately sited in relation to the means of access serving the business, and would not be visually intrusive or result in clutter.
In terms of public safety, particular care should be given to avoid an adverse effect on road safety.
The District Council will encourage the method of advertising most appropriate to the business and character of the buildings, and the grouping together of information on one sign will be encouraged.
 
 
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Roadside Facilities
RUR 9 WHERE THERE IS A DEMONSTRABLE NEED, PROPOSALS FOR ROADSIDE FACILITIES, INCLUDING PETROL FILLING STATIONS, TOILETS, PICNIC AREAS AND RESTAURANTS ALONGSIDE THE STRATEGIC ROAD NETWORK WILL BE PERMITTED OUTSIDE DEFINED SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) The proposed development does not adversely affect any designated sites of landscape, historic or statutory and non-statutory nature conservation value;
  (ii) The visual impact of the development is minimised by means of its location, design, landscaping and screening;
  (iii) Any associated advertising is in accordance with policy RUR 8 above;
  (iv) The proposal does not result in proliferation of such uses;
  (v) The proposal does not conflict with other policies of this plan.
 
There is currently an identified need for further roadside facilities along the strategic road network within Hampshire. The criteria of Policy T23 of the County Structure Plan Review will be taken into account when determining applications. The Council's aim is to accommodate necessary facilities whilst protecting open countryside from intrusive urbanising features. It is considered that the proliferation of roadside facilities can be detrimental to the character of the countryside. Siting and design of developments will therefore be carefully controlled and development which harms interests of acknowledged importance will not be permitted. Proposals will be expected to conform with GEN 1, GEN 3, GEN 4, RUR 2 and RUR 3, and the conservation policies of the plan. New facilities should preferably be sited where they can serve more than one strategic road.
 
 
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These uses can be potentially polluting, and early consultation with the Environment Agency is advisable to minimise any adverse effects.
The local planning authority will also encourage the retention of existing roadside facilities, which currently provide a useful service to drivers. In some locations, small-scale facilities in lay-bys are usefully providing for current needs and may benefit from environmental improvement or minor upgrading of facilities.
 
 
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Telecommunications
RUR 10 PROPOSALS FOR THE SITING OF TELECOMMUNICATION INSTALLATIONS AND EQUIPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) The location is the optimum necessary to satisfy technical, operational and legal requirements and at the same time minimise the need for additional apparatus elsewhere;
  (ii) Subject to technical, operational or legal requirements, the proposal is as sympathetic as possible in design, materials, colour, scale and location with the surrounding environment;
  (iii) It has been established that the following options are impracticable for technical, operational or legal reasons:
    a) Using an existing mast belonging to the licensee or any other person;
    b) Replacing an existing mast belonging to the licensee or any other person;
    c) Erecting in co-operation with any other operator of a personal telecommunications system a mast for the joint use of the licensee and that other operator.
  (iv) There are no other suitable masts within the area that could be shared.
     
Telecommunications are playing an increasingly important role in today's society, and an up to date and efficient network is essential for the effective operation of business and commerce. The evolution of a number of different telecommunication networks however has an impact on the physical environment. Telecommunication equipment usually requires location on high ground, remote from interference from buildings or trees. This often means open landscapes of high quality, such as the Downlands in the south of Hart District. The General and Conservation policies of this plan will be taken into account in assessing applications.
Central Government advice on telecommunications is provided in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8, and the local planning authority will take this into account in determining applications. This states that local planning authorities should allow for the efficient development of the telecommunications network, but that general policies controlling external appearance and siting should be used.
There are several ways in which the visual effect of telecommunications can be minimised. The sharing of masts can reduce the number in a particular area, though there may be technical restrictions preventing this in some cases. Landscaping and screening of the base of the mast, and control over materials, colour and design can reduce their impact. Pole masts are generally preferable to tower or lattice masts, and height should be kept to a minimum wherever possible (under 20 metres). Independent technical assessments of requirements may be sought in connection with specific requirements.
Telecommunication installations need to have adequate access for the development of the site, though the construction period is usually short and little maintenance is required. Small country lanes are not always suitable for large vehicles and this should be taken into account by the operator. Careful site management during construction can minimise this intrusion.
Negotiation with the Civil Aviation Authority or Ministry of Defence should take place at an early stage to ensure that disruption to flying aircraft by tall masts is minimised.
 
 
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Agricultural Development
RUR 11 PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT NECESSARY FOR THE PURPOSES OF AGRICULTURE, WHERE THE CRITERIA OF POLICY RUR 3 ARE MET.
   
Provision or replacement of agricultural buildings may be necessary to meet modern requirements of agriculture, and the Council will generally encourage this as a benefit to the rural economy. Some agricultural buildings have permitted development rights and hence do not require planning permission. In these cases there is a notification procedure for siting, design and external appearance. Where planning permission is required, the general environmental and conservation policies of this plan will be taken into account, as well as the advice in PPG7 on the countryside and rural economy. It is important that the need for such buildings can be justified, in order not to create large inappropriate buildings in the countryside.
Development permitted under this policy will normally also be subject to the considerations listed in Policy RUR3 in the same way as other developments in the countryside.
 
 
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Employment Development in the Countryside and Rural Settlements
RUR 12 WITHIN THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OR CHANGE OF USE TO BUSINESS (B1) WILL NORMALLY BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  (i) The proposal is well related in location and design to existing development;
  (ii) The scale of the proposal is not sufficient to cause a seriously harmful impact on surrounding properties, the immediate street scene or the settlement as a whole (including the balance of available facilities);
  (iii) The proposal is not significantly harmful to the amenities of adjacent residents, through noise or traffic impacts or any noxious fumes or smell;
  (iv) Changes of use do not cause serious harm to the character or setting of the building, particularly if it is listed;
  (v) The scale of development, either on its own or cumulatively with other proposals in the area, would not result in an imbalance between work force and jobs in the parish, leading to net in-commuting to a rural area.
 
Small-scale business developments in rural settlements can help to diversify the local economy and provide jobs for local residents, reducing their need to travel further to seek employment. Central Government advice in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7, The Countryside and Rural Economy, encourages local planning authorities to consider favourably applications for small business uses in rural areas provided that environmental interests are not jeopardised. Any such new development should be sensitively related to the existing settlement pattern in both location and design.
The development of large offices however is often inappropriate within small settlements or residential areas, unless the proposal secures the retention of a listed building in which case exceptions may be made, under the conservation policies. It is important that any employment development does not have any adverse effect on the quality of the residential environment or result in the loss of viable residential units.
 
 
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RUR 13 WITHIN THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MAY BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) The site already includes buildings from a previous use; and
  (ii) The proposal is well related in location and design to the surrounding countryside and has no detrimental effects on landscape, ecology or historical features;
  (iii) The proposal will not cause serious harm to the character and amenities of the area;
  (iv) The site is well contained by clear boundaries;
  (v) The scale of development, either on its own or cumulatively with other proposals in the area, would not result in an imbalance between work force and jobs in the parish, leading to net in-commuting to a rural area.
     
Development permitted under the Policy would normally be subject to the considerations listed in Policy RUR3 in the same way as other developments in the countryside. Building within the open countryside, away from existing settlement boundaries, will be strictly controlled in order to protect the countryside for its own sake, as well as particular features of importance. In exceptional cases, where a site has or has had an existing use, where it is unobtrusive, away from specially designated areas and where a proposed use can be of significant benefit to the surrounding rural economy, it may be possible to accommodate small business uses without detriment to the environment.
 
 
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The design, landscaping and location of such exceptional developments will be strictly controlled in order to minimise the impact on the countryside. It is also important that such developments do not have an adverse effect on the amenity of public rights of way. Larger business units, or those generating significant volumes of traffic, will not be regarded for inclusion under this policy.
Proposals for the re-use of rural buildings for business are covered by policy RUR 4. This policy however allows for additional buildings within or adjacent to existing complexes.
 
 
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RUR 14 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT (INVOLVING NEW BUILDINGS) OUTSIDE BUT ADJACENT TO THE RURAL SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES, MAY IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES BE PERMITTED TO MEET LOCAL NEEDS FOR THE CREATION OF NEW BUSINESSES, PROVIDED THAT THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS CAN BE SATISFIED:
  (i) The proposal will not cause significant impact on the character and amenities of the settlement;
  (ii) The site must be contiguous to a defined settlement boundary, or relate to the existing settlement in such a way that the development forms a logical extension to the existing settlement;
  (iii) The development should not have a significant adverse effect on the surrounding open countryside;
  (iv) The scale of development, either on its own or cumulatively with other proposals in the area, would not result in an imbalance between work force and jobs in the parish, leading to net in-commuting to a rural area.
 
This policy will be used to allow "social business units" which would normally be small starter units meeting a genuine local need and benefiting the diversification of the local economy. The Council wishes to encourage local expansion of the rural economy to improve local employment and business opportunities. This could also provide juxtaposition of workplace and homes, as encouraged by the guidance in PPG13 on Transport. This will be in addition to any social housing sites permitted under policy RUR 22.
Development permitted under the Policy would normally be subject to the considerations listed in Policy RUR 3 in the same way as other developments in the countryside.
Proposals should comply with policy GEN 6 on noise: activities generating substantial noise are not considered suitable for locations adjacent to rural settlements. It is also important that such developments do not have a detrimental effect on the amenity of public rights of way.
 
 
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RUR 15 PLANNING PERMISSION FOR DEVELOPMENT OR REDEVELOPMENT CONCERNING THE EXPANSION OF EXISTING EMPLOYMENT USES WILL BE GRANTED WITHIN OR ADJACENT TO THE EXISTING CURTILAGE OF A SITE, PROVIDED THAT THE SITE IS ALREADY LAWFULLY USED FOR SUCH PURPOSES AND THAT THE PROPOSAL, INCLUDING ACCESS, BOUNDARY AND SERVICING ARRANGEMENTS, DOES NOT MATERIALLY AFFECT THE AMENITIES OF ADJOINING BUILDINGS, OR THE LANDSCAPE, ECOLOGY OR AMENITY OF THE SURROUNDING COUNTRYSIDE.
 
The expansion of employment sites can allow for the growth of local businesses without requiring them to leave the locality or the District. This is encouraged under the Council's Economic Development Strategy. A degree of flexibility is therefore required in assessing such proposals (as encouraged under PPG4 - Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms) but it is important that expansion is controlled so that it avoids detriment to the surrounding countryside or to adjoining residents or uses. Not all expansion will require planning permission.
In considering such proposals, the Council will also have regard to existing and potential employment densities and travel demands. In the remoter areas the Council will encourage the substitution of existing uses with those types of employment uses that are less travel-intensive with respect to commuting and face-to-face business activities, in accordance with PPG13: Transport, paragraph 3.6.
Proposals falling to be considered under this Policy will also need to take into account the criteria based Policy RUR 3, which specifies particular environmental considerations that may be taken into account in dealing with applications for developments in the countryside; and Policy GEN 6 which sought to protect the local area from un-neighbourly and noisy uses.
 
 
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RUR 16 PROPOSALS FOR CHANGE OF USE WHICH WOULD RESULT IN A LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT USES WILL NOT NORMALLY BE PERMITTED.
   
Rural industry makes a significant contribution to the rural economy and provides jobs for those living in villages. Existing and proposed employment sites in rural areas also provide future opportunities for redevelopment for other businesses including agriculture-related industry. The Council has prepared an Economic Development Strategy, which particularly encourages the development of small rural business uses. It is important to protect employment opportunities and to secure local jobs that match the District's population profile.
The council accepts that there may be circumstances where the replacement of an un-neighbourly use or the longer-term benefit of the local economy may justify an exception to this policy.
 
 
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Shopping Development in the Countryside and Rural Settlements
RUR 17 WITHIN THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS, PROPOSALS FOR THE CHANGE OF USE OF EXISTING LOCAL SHOPS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS A SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE RETAIL OUTLET IS AVAILABLE IN THE SETTLEMENT, IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THE SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY FABRIC OF THE VILLAGE.
 
If such a business has to close down, alternative uses would be considered under policies RUR 12 (business uses in rural settlements) and RUR 20 (housing in rural settlements).
 
 
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RUR 18 SMALL SCALE SHOPPING DEVELOPMENT CONSISTING OF NEW BUILDINGS, EXTENSIONS OR CHANGES OF USE (INCLUDING CHANGES FROM RESIDENTIAL USE AT GROUND FLOOR LEVEL) WILL BE PERMITTED IN THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS, PROVIDED THAT THEY DO NOT CAUSE HARM TO THE CHARACTER AND AMENITIES OF THE SETTLEMENT.
 
The local planning authority wishes to see the retention and provision of small-scale shopping facilities in the rural settlements to meet local needs. These facilities are of particular value to elderly people or those without cars. They are an important service within a local community and can help to reduce travel demands. Guidance in PPG13 on Transport (paragraph 2.15) stresses the need to provide services in local centres, for this reason.
 
 
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RUR 19 OUTSIDE THE DEFINED SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES, PROPOSALS FOR GARDEN CENTRES OR FARM SHOPS WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THEY ARE WITHIN, OR UTILISE, AN EXISTING COMPLEX OF BUILDINGS, AND WHERE THEY DO NOT CAUSE AN UNACCEPTABLE INCREASE IN TRAFFIC. GARDEN CENTRES WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THEY ARE WELL RELATED TO EXISTING SETTLEMENTS AND THE EXISTING TRANSPORT NETWORK, AND DO NOT CAUSE HARM TO THE CHARACTER AND AMENITIES OF THE AREA. PROPOSALS FOR NEW BUILDING WILL NEED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY DO NOT SIGNIFICANTLY HARM THE LANDSCAPE.
 
The local planning authority will generally resist retailing developments in the open countryside in view of the need to prevent the intrusion of alien and urbanising features. Such developments can also result in inappropriate volumes of traffic on narrow rural roads, can threaten the viability of local shops in rural settlements and can encourage the increased use of private cars which is contrary to the aims of sustainability. Farm shops may provide a valuable outlet for goods produced on the farm. If this is the case then planning permission is not normally required. Where they sell produce that has not been produced on site, then planning permission is required and this policy would be applied. This may in some cases be a way of preserving and providing a new use for farm buildings of historic or architectural interest. When proposals for farm shops are considered, consideration will be given to their potential impact on nearby village shops.
Garden centres can be very intrusive in the countryside and generate large volumes of traffic. They are generally best located either in or close to settlements, and in locations where the existing road network is capable of taking the necessary traffic. The goods and services available from a garden centre should normally be limited to those directly related to gardening.
 
 
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Housing Development in the Rural Settlements and the Countryside
RUR 20 WITHIN THE SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES OF THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS, SMALL SCALE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED, PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) The density, scale and design are not harmful to the character of the surrounding properties;
  (ii) The development does not result in the loss of an important area of open land, or gap in a frontage, which contributes to the character and setting of the settlement;
  (iii) The proposal does not result in the loss of any natural feature considered worthy of retention;
  (iv) The proposal provides a reasonable mix of dwelling types and sizes where appropriate, reflecting the current needs of the area.
 
The local planning authority accepts the need to allow small-scale infill within the rural settlement boundaries where this would not be unduly harmful to the character of these settlements. The mix of housing types and sizes will be informed by reference to the Hart Housing Strategy, which is updated annually. It is important that developments reflect and are sympathetic to traditional local buildings. Such infill development can contribute towards increased housing needs locally, without harming the surrounding countryside, to seek a mix of housing types and sizes within housing developments in rural areas including a significant proportion of small units.
Excessive infilling or "town cramming" could detract from the appearance of rural settlements (many of which are conservation areas) and development will therefore be resisted on areas of open land or spaces in frontages, which act as characteristic features of the settlement. This will apply to pieces of land which provide important views from public spaces, which have public recreational value or the realistic potential to be used for public recreation in the future, which provide an essential part of the setting of a listed building, or which have been identified in a Conservation Area Proposal Statement as being of particular landscape or amenity value. The density of development permitted will depend on the surrounding buildings and townscape.
Reference should also be made to Policy H11 of the Hampshire County Structure Plan Review which recognises that there may be opportunities of windfall sites to help meet future housing needs where redevelopment would contribute towards urban regeneration or conserve land of greater value. Such sites should also be suitable in planning terms for housing development and consistent with other policies of the Plan.
 
 
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Affordable Housing
RUR 21 IN ORDER TO CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS ACHIEVING THE DISTRICT-WIDE TARGETS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING (AS SET OUT AND DEFINED IN THE PLAN), PROPOSALS FOR NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ON SITES OF 0.25 HA OR MORE OR PROVIDING 5 DWELLINGS OR MORE WILL, SUBJECT TO SITE AND MARKET CONDITIONS, ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THEY CONTAIN A PROPORTION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING. THE PRECISE SCALE AND FORM OF THE PROVISION WILL BE SUBJECT TO NEGOTIATION, BUT WILL BE EXPECTED TO CONSIST OF AT LEAST 25% OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF UNITS. THE HOUSING PROVIDED UNDER THIS POLICY WILL BE EXPECTED TO BE AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE LONGER TERM AND PERMISSION MAY BE SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS OR A PLANNING OBLIGATION MAY BE NEGOTIATED TO BRING THIS ABOUT.
 
All settlements defined under RUR1 are below 3,000 population. They therefore fall within the Circular 6/98 advice at paragraph 10 i) c) which accepts that for settlements in rural areas, with a population of 3,000 or fewer, the LPA should adopt appropriate thresholds based on assessments which include local needs and the available supply of land for housing and should be adopted through the local plan process. Where it can be demonstrated that there are exceptional local constraints it may be appropriate to seek to adopt a lower threshold. Such local constraints were demonstrated through a detailed Topic Paper and a Round Table Discussion held during the Local Plan Inquiry. The Inspector accepted the local constraints and high level of need for rural affordable housing warranted a reduction in the site threshold. He recommended a lower threshold of 0.25 ha or more or 5 dwellings or more as appropriate within the defined rural settlements.
For the purposes of the Plan, affordable housing is as described in Circular 6/98, paragraph 4, and encompasses both low-cost market and subsidised housing (irrespective of tenure, ownership - whether exclusive or shared - or financial arrangements) that will be available to people who cannot afford to rent or buy houses generally available on the open market. The assessment of the need for affordable housing in the plan area is given in relation to Policy URB 13 and for the rural areas of the District it is proposed that 25% of the dwellings provided on the larger development sites should be affordable by this definition.
 
 
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The Housing Needs Survey carried out in 1998 identified a need for approximately 80% of new housing development to be affordable however a figure of 20% in the rural areas was at the time of the Deposit Local Plan, considered "reasonable". The % figure sought has since been increased from 20-25% to reflect the Council's resolution of 16th December 2000 to seek 25% affordable housing on the proposed large site allocations in the Deposit Draft Local Plan. This decision is reinforced by the Housing Services Peer Review recommendation that Hart should seek 30% affordable housing from new housing developments. The wording " at least 25% .." would reflect the Council's resolution and at the same time allow for flexibility to seek a higher percentage on a site by site basis where necessary. Homelessness demand in Hart has increased, with 57 households currently (March 2001) in temporary accommodation, compared to 31 in April 1999. House price inflation relative to earnings has increased significantly in the last couple of years. The average earnings to average house price ratios for Hampshire are now as follows: 4.9 in 1998; 5.7 in 1999; and 6.7 in 2000. Key workers in public services such as health, education and the police are increasingly unable to access owner occupation in the Hart area. Workers in those essential local services would currently required a salary of almost 40,000 to purchase an average semi-detached property in the area, with actual starting salaries less than half that figure.
The affordable housing provided should be available in the longer term for local residents of proven need. In most instances it is likely that the affordable housing provided in accordance with this Policy would be provided or managed by a registered social landlord. In these and in other circumstances conditions may be imposed or planning obligations negotiated to secure provision of the accommodation and its subsequent availability in the long term to provide affordable housing. The Council takes the view that on-site affordable housing provision would be appropriate in all but the most exceptional cases. In those exceptional cases, it may be appropriate, as an alternative to on-site provision of an element of affordable housing, for a financial or other contribution to be made for the provision of affordable units on a different site within Hart.
 
 
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RUR 22 HOUSING DEVELOPMENT WITHIN OR ADJACENT TO RURAL VILLAGES MAY, IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES, BE PERMITTED TO MEET LOCAL NEEDS IF THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS CAN BE MET:
  (i) The local planning authority must be satisfied that there is a proven need for affordable housing for local people in the immediate vicinity;
  (ii) Development should be of an appropriate size so as not to have an overbearing impact on the settlement or the countryside. A maximum of approximately 0.4 hectares (1 acre) should normally be developed on the site;
  (iii) The site must normally be immediately adjacent to a defined settlement boundary, or form a logical extension to the existing settlement;
  (iv) The development should not have an adverse effect on the surrounding open countryside;
  (v) Materials and design are appropriate to the character of the surrounding area.
 
Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 on housing recognises that the community's need for affordable housing is a material planning consideration, which can be addressed within local plans and through development control. The best way of ensuring that affordable housing will be maintained is by involving a housing association, but in some cases schemes may be promoted in partnership with private developers. In rural areas where there is little scope for providing such housing in association with larger developments, and where there is a local need, PPG3 allows for the provision of affordable housing within or adjacent to existing villages, on sites that would not otherwise be permitted for housing.
This policy will normally only apply to sites immediately adjacent to rural settlements defined in this plan. In some exceptional cases however, such schemes may be appropriate adjacent to rural hamlets which do not have settlement boundaries due to their small size, if there is a demonstrated local need.
A Housing Needs Survey, commissioned by the Council in 1994, has revealed a significant need for affordable social housing in the District, endorsed by the Council's Housing Strategy. These findings were confirmed in the 1998 Housing Needs Survey. The local planning authority wishes to ensure that people who are on relatively low incomes and cannot access the owner occupied sector of the housing market have the opportunity to continue to live and work in the District.
 
 
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The applicant must express willingness to enter into a Section 106 Agreement, the purpose of which will include:
a) Agreement to nominate a body (normally a housing association or housing trust) to manage the occupancy and maintenance of the dwellings;
b) Agreement that occupancy shall be restricted and remain available to those who meet the criteria for local need as defined above.
The local planning authority is concerned to prevent houses approved under RUR 21 from ever coming onto the open market. The body nominated to manage such properties will be expected to retain adequate controls over the property to prevent "staircasing".
 
 
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Replacement, Renovation and Extension of Dwellings in the Countryside
RUR 23 THE REPLACEMENT OF AN EXISTING DWELLING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE WILL BE PERMITTED, PROVIDED THAT THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA APPLY:
  (i) The existing dwelling has lawful residential use;
  (ii) The existing dwelling is not the result of a temporary or series of temporary permissions;
  (iii) The proposed dwelling is not disproportionate in size to the existing dwelling, or in its impact on the countryside.
     
Applications for replacement dwellings within settlement boundaries will normally be permitted, but replacement dwellings in the countryside will be more restricted. Applications for the replacement of existing unoccupied dwellings, which nevertheless enjoy lawful residential use rights, will be considered on their merits taking into account the criteria set out above. It is important that replacement dwellings are not intrusive in the countryside, and that they are not significantly larger than the original dwelling. The policy will not be used to prevent the renewal of temporary permissions, but the existence of temporary consent does not justify replacement with a permanent dwelling other than in the circumstances envisaged by Policy RUR 26 (the division of agricultural holdings).
Extensions and renovations of dwellings will normally be permitted within settlements, but in the countryside this policy will be applied to ensure that renovations and extensions do not have a harmful impact on the character of their surroundings. Extensions and renovations which improve the condition of dwellings will usually be allowed, provided that they respect the original character of the property and that they do not result in a dwelling of such a size that it would be readily capable of conversion into more than one dwelling at a later date. Advice in PPG7, The Countryside and Rural Economy, states that new housing in the countryside should be strictly controlled.
   
 
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RUR 24 THE RENOVATION OR EXTENSION OF A DWELLING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT:
  (i) The existing dwelling has lawful residential use rights; and
  (ii) The extension does not materially change the impact of the dwelling on the countryside or result in an enlarged or additional dwelling disproportionate in size to the original dwelling.
 
Extensions and renovations of dwellings will normally be permitted within settlements, but in the countryside this policy will be applied to ensure that renovations and extensions do not have a harmful impact on the character of their surroundings. Extensions and renovations which improve the condition of dwellings will usually be allowed, provided that they respect the original character of the property and that they do not result in a dwelling of such a size that it would be readily capable of conversion into more than one dwelling at a later date. Advice in PPG7, The Countryside and Rural Economy, states that new housing in the countryside should be strictly controlled.
 
 
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New Dwellings in the Countryside
RUR 25 THE DEVELOPMENT OF A STAFF DWELLING IN ASSOCIATION WITH AN INSTITUTIONAL BUILDING SUCH AS A SCHOOL OR NURSING HOME WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) The local planning authority is satisfied that the dwelling is essential for operational reasons such as security, supervision or health and safety;
 
 
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  (ii) The development is appropriate to the rural character of the area and/or the institutional building and its grounds, by virtue of its siting, size, design and appearance;
  (iii) The development is of an appropriate scale and design where it is within the curtilage of, or in close proximity to, a listed building or building of local importance.
 
The local planning authority accepts the need for limited accommodation linked to institutional buildings due to changes in staffing needs.
In order to ensure that such accommodation is always available for staff use, the occupancy of dwellings permitted in accordance with this proposal will be restricted to those solely or mainly employed at the building in whose grounds the new dwelling is to be located.
 
 
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RUR 26 WHERE AN AGRICULTURAL HOLDING HAS BEEN DIVIDED OR NEW FARMING ACTIVITY COMMENCED, PERMISSION FOR AN ADDITIONAL DWELLING WILL BE GRANTED WHERE THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT AN OPERATIONAL NEED EXISTS AND THAT NO OTHER SUITABLE DWELLING IS AVAILABLE IN THE VICINITY. IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, ONLY TEMPORARY HOUSING ACCOMMODATION WILL BE PERMITTED IN THE COUNTRYSIDE FOR AGRICULTURAL OR FORESTRY WORKERS PROVIDED THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT:
  (i) An operational need exists;
  (ii) No other suitable dwelling is available in the vicinity;
  (iii) There is clear evidence of a firm intention and ability to develop the enterprise concerned;
  (iv) There is clear evidence that the proposed enterprise has been planned on a sound financial basis;
  (v) The functional need could not be fulfilled by another dwelling on the unit, or any other existing accommodation in the area which is suitable and available for occupation by the workers concerned; and
  (vi) Other normal planning requirement such as access, siting and design are satisfied.
     
Where new agricultural holdings are established, often by sub-division of a larger holding, it is recognised that temporary housing accommodation for agricultural or forestry workers may be appropriate. If a proposal satisfies the criteria of this policy as amplified in paragraph I14 of Annex I, PPG7, it will be considered for an initial period of three years. In order to ensure that such accommodation is always available for staff use, the occupancy of dwellings permitted in accordance with this proposal will be restricted to those solely or mainly employed in agriculture or forestry in the locality. Functional and financial tests of viability for an agricultural holding are included within Annex I of PPG7: The Countryside and the Rural Economy.
 
 
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RUR 27 PROPOSALS FOR DWELLINGS IN ASSOCIATION WITH AN AGRICULTURAL RETAIL OUTLET WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
 
The local planning authority considers that where small-scale retail outlets are ancillary to agriculture, an associated dwelling would usually exist in the vicinity. Whilst such outlets may make a valuable contribution to the rural economy, there is rarely any justification for an additional dwelling.
 
 
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RUR 28 IN ORDER TO PREVENT SPORADIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, DWELLINGS PROPOSED IN CONNECTION WITH HORSE RELATED DEVELOPMENT WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  (i) The dwelling is required in connection with a commercial equestrian activity (such as livery stables, riding schools or stud farms) where the local planning authority is satisfied that the business is established in that locality and is of such a scale as to require constant on-site supervision;
  (ii) Existing accommodation either on or within reasonable proximity to the site is inadequate to meet commercial requirements including the scale of the operation and the extent or nature of supervision required, and no existing buildings suitable for conversion exist on the site;
 
 
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  (iii) The dwelling is sited in close proximity to the existing complex of buildings forming the equestrian centre;
  (iv) Occupancy conditions and legal agreements are applied to restrict the use of the dwelling to a person solely or mainly employed in connection with the equestrian activity and to ensure that the dwelling is not disposed of separately from the equestrian business.
 
Applicants may wish to present evidence to demonstrate that the scale or nature of the activity, including the number, types and values of the horses, is sufficient to require on-site supervision by one full-time member of staff.
It is unlikely that activities other than large businesses, which incorporate activities such as livery stables, riding schools, equestrian centres or stud farms will fall within the scope of this policy. Until the local planning authority is satisfied that the business is established, planning permission will not normally be granted.
The local planning authority will apply occupancy conditions and enter into legal agreements restricting the use of the dwellings to a person solely or mainly employed in connection with the equestrian activity and ensuring that the dwelling is not disposed of separately from the equestrian business.
The local planning authority does not regard small-scale horse related activities as an essential part of the rural economy. Such activities would normally be ancillary to other uses. Only separate large-scale commercial horse related businesses would normally justify on-site residential accommodation.
Other developments associated with horse related uses will be assessed according to Proposal RUR 34.
 
 
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Leisure and Recreation Developments in the Countryside and Rural Settlements
RUR 29 PROPOSALS FOR FORMAL RECREATION FACILITIES INCLUDING GOLF COURSES, RURAL MUSEUMS AND FARM PARKS, WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT:
  (i) A rural location is appropriate;
  (ii) The proposal does not have significant detrimental impact on the landscape, ecology or amenity of the countryside;
  (iii) Where agricultural land of the best and most versatile quality is used, the development provides for the reversion of the land to agriculture if required;
  (iv) Where possible existing buildings are re-used and any new building or landscaping is unobtrusive so as to maintain the open character of the countryside;
  (v) Traffic, access and parking requirements are satisfactorily addressed.
 
The countryside requires protection from recreation and tourism uses which would be detrimental to its economy, living conditions, landscape, ecology, sites of archaeological and historic interest, and other resources of special importance.
For certain formal recreation and tourism facilities however, a countryside location is the most appropriate, particularly where large stretches of open land are required. In such cases the District Council will seek to encourage the location of appropriate facilities where the landscape, geology, ecology and rural activities are least vulnerable to damage.
Development for recreational purposes may have beneficial environmental effects, particularly where it provides an opportunity to re-use and enhance derelict or despoiled land, and the Council will encourage such proposals in this situation.
Recreation activities, which require substantial buildings and car parks or which frequently attract large numbers of people, whether participants or spectators, would detract from the open and rural nature of the countryside. The visual impact of floodlighting in the countryside can also be detrimental. It is also important that such developments do not block access to the countryside by obstructing rights of way.
Natural water areas and those resulting from gravel extraction can be used for various water sports. It is important however that ecological interests of these areas are not harmed, and that these facilities do not have an urbanising effect on open countryside or disturb the amenities of nearby residents or other recreational uses. The main opportunities for water-sports in the District are within the Blackwater Valley, covered by Proposal RUR 31.
Farm related recreation and tourist facilities can provide a suitable opportunity for the re-use of farm buildings. This can help to diversify the rural economy and to provide alternative sources of farm income.
 
 
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The local planning authority will require land management agreements, drawn up in consultation with the relevant bodies, where this will result in the co-existence of conservation and recreation interests.
The recreational potential of a widened Forest of Eversley area, including much of this District is specifically encouraged through a comprehensive initiative by Hampshire County Council "A Strategy for the Forest of Eversley" supported by the District Council. Any formal recreation facilities as part of this initiative would be considered under this policy, but the whole initiative will also include the encouragement of informal recreation in the area.
Specific advice on golf course development is provided by supplementary planning guidance published by the local planning authority in 1992. The development of golf courses has the potential to affect the water environment adversely, and the Environment Agency should be consulted at the earliest possible stage on such proposals.
   
 
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RUR 30 PROPOSALS FOR SMALL-SCALE INFORMAL RECREATION FACILITIES, SUCH AS INTERPRETATION CENTRES AND CAR PARKS, WHICH ENABLE PEOPLE TO ENJOY THE COUNTRYSIDE, WILL NORMALLY BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT THEY DO NOT CONFLICT WITH THE PROTECTION OF ECOLOGY OR LANDSCAPE, AND DO NOT CREATE UNDUE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS.
 
The attractive and varied countryside of the District provides a valuable informal recreational resource, easily accessible from surrounding urban areas. Informal recreation, particularly walking, is very popular and does not generally cause any harm to landscape or ecology. The creation of new permissive footpaths in the countryside will be supported by the District Council. The effects of any proposed small-scale recreational developments on existing rights of way would be considered, but such uses should normally be complementary to the enjoyment of those rights of way. Small car parking areas and interpretation facilities can assist visitors to enjoy the countryside.
The Forest of Eversley, as defined in this plan, has the potential to offer informal recreation opportunities for visitors to the District. Nature conservation interests are paramount in this area however due to the international importance of lowland heathland, much of which is a proposed Special Protection Area for Birds. Uses attracting large numbers of visitors would therefore be inappropriate. An interpretation centre and informal car parking and picnic areas would assist visitors to appreciate this distinctive area. A County Council initiative, supported by the District, seeks to promote the wider Forest of Eversley area for recreational and tourism potential.
Larger scale developments attracting considerable numbers of people would be considered under RUR 29. For the purposes of this policy, small-scale facilities would include interpretation boards or shelters, small interpretation centres, bird-watching hides and minor car parking areas for no more than around a dozen cars.
 
 
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Blackwater Valley
RUR 31 WITHIN THE BLACKWATER VALLEY, PROPOSALS FOR RECREATIONAL USES THAT REQUIRE PLANNING PERMISSION (INCLUDING THE USE OF FORMER GRAVEL WORKINGS) WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THEY SAFEGUARD NATURE CONSERVATION INTERESTS AND PROVIDE A RIVERSIDE FOOTPATH AND BRIDLEWAY LINKED TO THE EXISTING NETWORK. THE FOLLOWING USES ARE PROPOSED FOR THE SPECIFIC AREAS, AND DEVELOPMENTS TO FACILITATE THESE ACTIVITIES WILL BE PERMITTED:
  (i) Between Blackwater and Swan Lane, Darby Green - angling, sailing and other non-powered water sports;
  (ii) Between Swan Lane and Mill Lane, Yateley - angling, non-powered water sports, and nature conservation / The Chandlers Lane Playing Fields - playing fields and other recreational purposes;
  (iii) Between Mill Lane and Eversley Cross - angling, nature conservation and all forms of sports including powered activities, and formal recreation in appropriate locations;
  (iv) Between Eversley Cross and the Whitewater River - angling, canoeing, walking, riding and nature conservation.
 
These developments are also subject to Proposal CON 20, protecting the open nature of the Valley, which should be read in conjunction with this proposal.
 
 
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The water areas north of Yateley are the result of past mineral extraction within this area. The County Council, as minerals planning authority, controls the restoration of sites following mineral working, but once restored, these areas are subject to planning controls by the local planning authority where development or changes of use are proposed.
Different parts of the Valley may be appropriate for more formal and informal activities. Provision will be made as opportunities arise to incorporate a public footpath/bridleway with associated parking, linking the various parts of the valley. Provision of land or water space for public use may be made by means of Section 106 agreements.
The broad policy guidance for the whole of the Blackwater Valley was initially established when the "Blackwater River Valley Restoration and Recreation Study" was published in 1971 by Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey County Councils. This was supplemented by a further joint study, the "Blackwater Valley Joint Landscape Study" published in 1976. Both these studies identified the need to improve the environment of the Blackwater Valley, improve public access and provide recreation and leisure facilities, particularly after the completion of gravel extraction. The Blackwater Valley Countryside Service currently works to encourage recreation facilities in the Valley and maintain and enhance its ecological, landscape and informal recreational value. The Blackwater Valley Strategy 2000-2005 currently provides up to date information on the policy aims for the area.
The noisier powered activities, such as jet-skiing and motor cycle sports, may be accommodated if it can be shown that they conform to Policies GEN 6 and GEN 7 and follow the guidance of PPG24.
 
 
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Basingstoke Canal
RUR 32 RECREATIONAL, NAVIGATIONAL AND ANCILLARY FACILITIES WILL BE PERMITTED ALONG THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL, WHERE THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT THE PROPOSAL WOULD CONSERVE THE HISTORIC AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTER OF THE WATERWAY AND ITS SETTING.
 
The Basingstoke Canal, it's associated bridges and structures and a surrounding corridor has been designated as the Basingstoke Canal Conservation Area, and the whole length of the canal within the District is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. Proposals for any development will also be subject to Proposals CON 1, CON 2, CON 3 and CON 10 of the conservation chapter of this plan.
The restoration and ongoing maintenance and improvement of the Basingstoke Canal is a major project which will continue for several years. It is the policy of the local authorities to encourage its maintenance and use for navigational and recreational purposes following restoration, and to provide facilities in selected locations provided that the character of the canal is protected. It is important to maintain a balance between the different recreational uses and environmental interests. The strategy for the restoration and after use of the canal is being co-ordinated by a Joint Management Committee comprising local authority and interest group representatives, and a management plan for the whole canal has recently been prepared.
 
 
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Camping and Caravanning
RUR 33 PROPOSALS FOR TOURING CAMPING AND CARAVANNING FACILITIES WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THEY:
  (i) Do not conflict with any conservation policies by causing any detrimental effect on interests of acknowledged importance, including ecology, archaeology or sites of historic interest;
  (ii) Do not have a significantly detrimental impact on the landscape, do not cause inappropriate traffic volumes on rural lanes and are well related either to existing settlements, existing groups of buildings or suitable landscape screening.
 
Where stationed for any length of time or on a regular basis, caravans and tents can have an intrusive effect on the appearance of the open countryside, and may unduly disturb important interests such as ecology or agricultural land of the best and most versatile quality. Where planning permission is required and harmful effects can be avoided however, a limited number of small-scale touring camping and caravanning facilities may be appropriate to enable visitors to enjoy the area's countryside and historic features. This can be an appropriate means of farm diversification. Such facilities should be well screened within the landscape so as to cause minimal impact on the countryside.
 
 
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Horse Related Development
RUR 34 PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE BREEDING, KEEPING AND RIDING OF HORSES (INCLUDING STABLES, RIDING SCHOOLS, EQUESTRIAN CENTRES AND STUD FARMS, AND ASSOCIATED BUILDINGS SUCH AS TACK ROOMS) WILL ONLY BE GRANTED PLANNING PERMISSION IF THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS ARE SATISFIED:
  (i) The proposal does not create the need for an additional dwelling in the countryside;
  (ii) Adequate provision can be made for off-road exercising of horses, either within the site or using official bridleways, without undue impact on the wider rural environment including ecological interests and the amenity of other recreational uses;
  (iii) Any outdoor arena or hard surface for exercise purposes would not be detrimental to the character of the countryside by virtue of its scale, prominence, surface treatment and siting;
  (iv) Any new buildings are essential to the use and are not significantly harmful to the open character of the countryside.
 
Horse riding and related leisure activities are becoming increasingly popular particularly in the more prosperous south-east of England. The increase in population in Hart as a result of additional housing growth is likely to increase demand in the District for horse-related activities.
Horse keeping and associated activities can give rise to a number of issues:
i) Decline in management of good quality agricultural land;
ii) Demand for additional dwellings in the countryside;
iii) Visual impact on the rural environment and the deterioration in landscape due to keeping a large number of horses on a small area, or inadequate land management. Design and maintenance can help to reduce impact. Any buildings should be designed to blend in with their surroundings, and jumps and equipment should be put away when not in frequent use;
iv) Pressure placed by horse riders on public open space, common land, bridleways, footpaths and forest trails, and conflicts which can arise with other recreational interests, conservation and farming. Erosion and damage to vegetation can be a problem particularly in ecologically sensitive areas such as heathland habitats. There may be conflict with other recreational uses and the maintenance of footpaths and bridleways can help to alleviate this. In some cases footpaths may need to be physically closed off to horse riders;
v) Potential dangers to horse riders and other road users in situations where inadequate riding areas are available close to riding establishments;
vi) Proximity of activities to residential areas and possible loss of amenity through noise, traffic and floodlighting as well as loss of visual amenity;
vii) Demands for intensification of use and the erection of large buildings, which would be prominent in the landscape. Wherever possible, the re-use of existing buildings will be encouraged rather than the provision of new ones.
This proposal is designed to minimise the impact of this activity on the countryside. Specific advice on development involving horses is given in Annex F of PPG7. The welfare of horses, taking into account recommended standards for their comfort and safety, will be a material consideration.
See also Proposal RUR 28, which covers additional dwellings required in association with equestrian activities.
 
 
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Social Infrastructure and Services
RUR 35 PROPOSALS WHICH RETAIN, IMPROVE OR PROVIDE NEW LOCAL SHOPS, SCHOOLS, POST OFFICES, MEDICAL FACILITIES, CHURCHES, MEETING HALLS, PLAYING FIELDS AND OTHER COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES WILL BE PERMITTED WITHIN AND ON THE EDGE OF THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS OR WHERE EXISTING FACILITIES ARE ADJACENT TO THE URBAN AREAS PROVIDED THAT THE LOCATION IS WELL RELATED TO THE CATCHMENT AREA SERVED AND OTHER POLICIES OF THE DEVELOPMENT PLAN ARE SATISFIED. PROPOSALS THAT WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF COMMUNITY FACILITIES SUCH AS SCHOOLS, MEETING HALLS AND RECREATION AREAS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THEY ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED, OR THEY PROVIDE FOR REPLACEMENT FACILITIES WITHIN THE CATCHMENT AREA OR SUITABLE ALTERNATIVES EXIST.
 
 
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The local planning authority wishes to ensure that the existing level of provision is maintained and, where necessary, improved or provided to meet the needs of the rural population. As far as possible, new facilities should be located in or on the edge of the rural centre that is closest to the majority of the clients served by the facility and this will normally be the largest settlement within the catchment area.
 
 
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Motor Sports
RUR 36 IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES, PLANNING PERMISSION MAY BE GRANTED FOR USE OF LAND FOR MOTOR SPORT (NOT INVOLVING ATTENDANCE BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC) PROVIDED THAT THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA CAN BE MET:
  (i) The site has a hollow land-form which can be adapted to direct noise in an upward direction away from neighbouring properties and other areas of countryside providing opportunities for informal tranquil recreation;
  (ii) Activities will not have a material adverse effect on interests of acknowledged importance covered by other policies of the plan in CON 1 to CON 23;
  (iii) No spectator events will be held on site;
  (iv) Proposals must include appropriate measures for the collection and disposal of waste materials (including oil, fuel, components, vehicles and general rubbish arising).
 
It is expected that the use of sites would be by recognised motor sports clubs or organisations and conducted in accordance with the relevant rules and codes of conduct.
 
 
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Use of Dwellings for Business (B1) Uses
RUR 37 IN THE RURAL SETTLEMENTS AND OPEN COUNTRYSIDE, PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GIVEN FOR THE USE OF PART OF A DWELLING HOUSE AND/OR ANCILLARY BUILDINGS WITHIN ITS CURTILAGE FOR BUSINESS (B1) USES PROVIDED THAT:
  a) The principal use of the property remains as a dwelling house; and
  b) No more than 25% of the property (including ancillary buildings) is used for business purposes, subject to a minimum allowance of 20 sq. m. and a maximum allowance of 50 sq. m.; and
  c) There will be no outside storage; and
  d) There will be no material increase in traffic as a result of the proposal.
     
The local planning authority wishes to encourage and facilitate people working from home in accordance with advice in PPG13 and to encourage a greater and more diverse provision of employment in rural areas. Proposals not falling within the limits prescribed in Criterion (b) of the Policy will be considered on their merits.
Where a business use is strictly ancillary in planning terms to the residential use of the dwelling planning permission is not required. Prospective applicants are advised to seek clarification with the local planning authority to confirm a "de-minimis" use of the property.
 
 
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Provision of Gypsy Sites
RUR 38 THE SITES MARKED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP ARE CONSIDERED SUITABLE FOR USE AS GYPSY ACCOMMODATION. FURTHER SITES FOR TRANSIT AND PERMANENT SITES FOR GYPSY FAMILIES MAY EXCEPTIONALLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT THERE IS A GENUINE NEED FOR THE SCHEME AND THEY MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
  (i) There is no unacceptable impact on designated areas of landscape and / or nature conservation value;
  (ii) The purposes of the Strategic or Local Gaps are not prejudiced;
  (iii) There is a satisfactory means of access and adequate parking, and development does not generate traffic of an amount or type inappropriate for roads in the area;
 
 
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  (iv) There is no unacceptable impact on neighbouring land uses;
  (v) They can be provided with essential services (mains drinking water, and a refuse collection point);
  (vi) They include where necessary, a landscape scheme;
  (vii) Where an element of business activity is provided, it does not adversely affect neighbouring land uses or generate levels and types of traffic inappropriate to local roads;
  (viii) They have reasonable access to schools, medical services, shops and other community facilities.
     
Local planning authorities no longer have a statutory duty to provide sites for gypsies residing in or resorting to their area. Guidance in Circular 1/94 "Gypsy Sites and Planning" states that local planning authorities should continue to make adequate gypsy site provision in their development plans whether for public or private sites. A variety of sites may be needed. The aim is to secure provision appropriate to gypsies' accommodation needs while protecting amenity and the local environment. As a rule, it will be appropriate to make provision for gypsy sites in areas of open land where development is severely restricted. Other considerations such as highway access and safety and proximity of local facilities, is also relevant. Sites meeting countryside, conservation and highway policies can be found in rural or semi-rural settings and urban areas.
 
 
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