Exmoor National Park Authority is inviting comments on new guidance into how new homes for rural workers and farming families in the National Park can be applied for, as part of a public consultation running for six weeks until 18 June 2019.
The draft ‘Rural Worker and Succession Farm Dwelling Guidance’ applies to those working in land-based businesses in the National Park, such as farming or forestry, and is supplementary to existing national guidelines as well as those set out in the Local Plan for the National Park.
Nationally, homes in the open countryside are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as needing a full-time worker permanently on site to tend livestock. Local planning policy further recognises that maintaining the fabric of Exmoor’s farming community is intrinsic to conserving the distinct landscapes and habitats of the National Park, along with the centuries-old farming practices that help sustain them.
For example there is extra flexibility to help older farmers retire and a younger generation to take on responsibility for the farm business, or for larger dwellings to be applied for if the scale or nature of the enterprise demands it and the need can’t be met through alternative arrangements. But equally the rules are necessarily stringent around the impact of any new dwelling on the landscape to ensure they are sensitive to the unique character and scenic beauty of the National Park. These new guidelines are intended to help balance these two obligations.
Robin Milton, chairman of the National Park Authority, said: “This is an important document for Exmoor and its communities to ensure there are opportunities for new housing where it is essential to working people being able to live locally and to conserve and enhance this beautiful area. It is intended to help applicants and all those involved in planning for farm dwellings in the National Park and we would love to hear people’s views.”
Martin Dewdney, chairman of the National Park Authority Planning Committee, added: “If adopted, this document will form part of an extensive toolkit on offer to help with these kinds of planning applications that also includes regular planning surgeries and free pre-application advice. As the Local Plan is already adopted, it won’t form part of the consultation, but we warmly welcome any comments focused on this latest guidance.”
The draft guidelines and comments form are available from the Exmoor National Park Authority website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/rural-worker-and-succession-farm-dwelling-guidance-consultation.
Hard copies are available at National Park Centres in Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth, Lynton and Porlock libraries, Exmoor House in Dulverton and West Somerset and North Devon Council Offices in Williton and Barnstaple.