Aylesbury Vale Area

VALP Proposed Submission

Ended on the 14 December 2017
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(13) 10 Countryside

Conversion of rural buildings

10.1 In support of the transition to a low carbon future, national policy (National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 17) indicates that planning should encourage the re-use of existing resources, including existing buildings.

10.2 National policy recognises that the conversion of existing buildings can help to promote a strong rural economy, as can the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses and sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments.

10.3 Local Planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances, such as where the development would re-use a redundant or disused building and lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting.

10.4 Stimulating economic growth and supporting the recovery of the local economy is one of the Council's corporate priorities. In support of this priority, and in the context of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Policy C1 encourages the re-use of existing rural buildings for a variety of uses.

10.5 The policy is primarily aimed at redundant, disused or underused building. It sets out:

  • the characteristics existing buildings should have to make them acceptable for re-use,
  • the Council's approach to different types of use, and
  • how the Council will assess the acceptability of any scheme for re-use.

(1) 10.6 Proposals should refer to the AVDC Designs Guides for Conversion of Traditional Farm Buildings and Conversion of Listed Historic Farm Buildings.

Permitted development rights

10.7 A number of permitted development rights apply to existing buildings in the countryside and these rights may change over the VALP period. Development (including change of use) allowed under such rights cannot be controlled by the policies in the VALP.

Characteristics of the existing building


10.8 The Council only permits the re-use of existing permanent buildings under this policy. This ensures that it is not used to establish a permanent use on a site where only a temporary consent exists or where a permanent use has lapsed as a result of dereliction. However, exceptionally, the Council may permit the re-use of a derelict building if the applicant can demonstrate that dereliction was the result of severe accidental damage or accidental destruction, for example, by fire, in the past two years.


10.9 The re-use of buildings in the countryside may involve redundant or disused buildings. An existing building does not need to be empty before a scheme for conversion or diversification would be considered. However, the Council wishes to ensure that any existing use or activities could be accommodated either on or off site, without the need for an additional building to fulfil the function of the building being converted.

10.10 Buildings need to be soundly constructed to merit retention and re-use. Buildings should clearly be capable of conversion and not constitute a fresh build. Derelict buildings are clearly no longer of sound construction but some other buildings are also not suitable for re-use. These include buildings constructed with temporary or short-life materials and those built without proper foundations.


10.11 The Council supports the re-use of buildings in the countryside, particularly those close to towns and villages, as a means of supporting sustainable growth. The re-use of buildings in the countryside, such as those that are located well away from the public highway in locations not served by utilities such as sewerage, water and electricity, will generally not be allowed.

10.12 However, there are some businesses that already exist in the countryside, so development may be permitted where the re-use of a building could support an existing business. Diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses and sustainable rural tourism and leisure development are supported to promote a strong rural economy.


(1) 10.13 The countryside has many buildings of historic or architectural importance and buildings which contribute to local character. Some buildings enhance the countryside and the Council will actively encourage their retention and re-use.

10.14 However, national policy has widened the types of building suitable for re-use with changes to agricultural permitted development rights through The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 Schedule 2 Part 3 Classes Q, R and S.

10.15 For existing agricultural buildings over 500sqm, the Council may not permit its retention and re-use if it considers that the existing building has a harmful impact on its surrounding or the wider landscape. Often, the removal of disused agricultural buildings is preferable to retention as it can bring about an environmental improvement. This is most likely to be the case with a modern building, whose retention and re-use is unlikely to be acceptable if it is large in scale, clad with unattractive materials such as profiled steel or asbestos sheeting, or has a very utilitarian appearance.

10.16 Buildings proposed for residential re-use, should readily lend themselves to residential conversion in terms of  scale, height, depth and number and location of existing openings. The area of land cultivated and maintained as a garden ('domestic curtilage') should be restricted to that necessary to provide immediate amenity space without detracting from the countryside setting. Permitted development rights may be restricted. 

Assessing the acceptability of the proposed scheme for re-use

10.17 All schemes for the re-use of existing buildings in the countryside should be designed with their rural location in mind and any potential impacts that the re-use might have on the surrounding area.

10.18 Larger scale schemes are more likely to have an impact on the rural roads, the amenity of local residents and the landscape setting. Such impacts will be considered against the relevant policies elsewhere in the VALP.

10.19 Applicants should be realistic about the uses to which an existing building in the countryside might be put.  Existing buildings should be large enough to accommodate the intended re-use but applicants should also be aware that a building's design and construction may limit the type of use that can be accommodated. Any scheme should enable conversion without the need for complete or substantial reconstruction. The Council may require a structural survey for buildings outside the built-up area of settlements to confirm the level of reconstruction required.

10.20 Since the existing building should be large enough to accommodate the intended re-use, there should be no need for significant extensions.

10.21 Many existing buildings in the countryside have a well-defined 'curtilage', or an established site area which may be defined on the ground or legally, for example in a certificate of lawful use or development. Any activities associated with the re-use of a building should take place within that curtilage or site area. Where it is necessary to define a curtilage or operational site area as part of the scheme for re-use, this should be the minimum required to meet the operational needs of the intended re-use and not harm the character of the countryside.

10.22 Where a scheme for the re-use of a building is permitted, the use should be capable of being accommodated to a large extent within the building itself. Incidental external ancillary uses such as essential operational parking are likely to be acceptable, provided that they are the minimum necessary to meet the needs of the development. Other ancillary uses, such as the outdoor storage of goods or materials are unlikely to be acceptable. In all cases, the use, layout and design of any outdoor areas should ensure that the development is not visually intrusive in the landscape.


10.23 Proposals to convert traditional buildings should normally be contained within the confines of the existing building shell. Proposals which rely on substantial alteration or extension in order to make them work will not be permitted.

10.24 Within settlements, an extension may be acceptable if it is designed with sensitivity for the host building and does not conflict with any other planning requirements. An extension should enhance the character and appearance of its immediate surroundings, and where possible, make a positive contribution in the wider area.

10.25 Where permission is granted for the conversion of a traditional rural building, the Council will consider the impact of the use of permitted development rights available at the time. The Council may restrict or remove them if it is necessary to preserve the appearance of the building, or the amenity of users of neighbouring properties.

Extensions to existing conversions

10.26 Proposals to alter or extend previously converted buildings will be assessed in the same way as proposals to alter or extend buildings as part of a conversion scheme. Buyers of converted traditional rural buildings should be aware of any restriction or removal of permitted development rights.

(4) C1 Conversion of rural buildings

Building Characteristics

The re-use of an existing building that is of permanent and substantial construction and generally in keeping with the rural surroundings in the countryside will be permitted provided that all the following assessment criteria are met:

  1. Conversion works should not involve major reconstruction or significant extensions and should respect the character of the building and its setting
  2. Where the building is suitable for modern agricultural practice it would not give rise to a future need for another building to fulfil the function of the building being re-used
  3. The long-term retention of a building that is by reason of its location, size, condition and appearance is harmful to the character of the countryside is not encouraged
  4. The redundant or disused status of the building has been demonstrated and the re-use of the building would enhance the immediate setting
  5. The existing building is inherently suitable, in terms of its size, design and construction for the intended re-use, and the proposed scheme enables the intended re-use to be achieved without the need for complete or substantial reconstruction
  6. The proposed re-use is of a scale that would not have an adverse impact on its surroundings or the viability of existing facilities or services in nearby settlements
  7. Any extension to the existing building included in the proposed scheme is modest in scale, ancillary in nature, subordinate to the main building and necessary to meet the essential functional requirements of the intended re-use
  8. Any extension to the existing barn conversion is modest in scale, ancillary in nature, subordinate to the main building and in keeping with the rural character
  9. Where the existing building is of designated or non-designated heritage assets or contributes to local character, the proposed scheme would retain significant historical features and not adversely affect the character and appearance of the building or its setting
  10. Where any curtilage is required it should not be excessive in size and should relate well to the existing building and landscape
  11. The proposed scheme would not give rise to ancillary uses that could not be accommodated within the site and does not include, or would not give rise to, ancillary uses within the site, such as open storage, that would be visually intrusive, and
  12. Conversion works should not adversely impact upon wildlife using the structure.  If impacts to nesting sites are unavoidable mitigation will be required (see Policy NE2).

Equestrian development

10.27 National policy (National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 28) indicates that Local Planning policies should support economic growth in rural areas in order to create jobs and prosperity, by taking a positive approach to sustainable new development. Local Plans should:

  • support the sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business and enterprise in rural areas
  • promote the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses, and
  • support sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments that benefit businesses in rural areas, communities and visitors, which respect the character of the countryside.

10.28 In the Vale, the riding and keeping of horses are popular leisure pursuits and equestrian businesses can contribute to the rural economy. However, both of these activities have the potential to adversely affect environmental quality and the rural character of the district.

10.29 This policy sets out the Council's approach to equestrian activities in the countryside, which seeks to promote a strong rural economy whilst also protecting environmental quality and other rural character. The policy and supporting text cover both the keeping of horses for private recreational purposes and commercial enterprises including:

  • the types of equestrian activities and developments that are likely to require planning permission
  • the general issues that apply to all equestrian development, such as site suitability and management, horse exercising and highways
  • the Council's approach to different types of development (mainly field shelters and private stables, commercial recreation and leisure developments, and commercial training and breeding businesses), and
  • ancillary uses (such as riding arenas and occupational dwellings).

10.30 In the policy and supporting text, the term 'equine' means any domestic horse, pony, donkey and hybrids (including mules) and where the word 'horse' is used the reference applies to all equines.

The need for planning permission

10.31 Developments which normally require planning permission include:

  • the use of land or a building to keep horses for recreational purposes
  • the erection of a building to shelter horses or their provisions
  • the erection of a building in which to exercise horses
  • the setting out of a riding arena or exercise arena or to create other hard surfaces for a similar purpose
  • the putting up of lights to illuminate a riding arena of other area
  • any residential development associated with the keeping of horses, including the stationing of a mobile home or caravan in a field, and
  • the laying out or surfacing of a vehicular access in connection with the keeping of horses.

10.32 Commercial establishments, such as riding schools, livery stables, racing stables and stud farms (and extensions to existing premises) also require consent.

10.33 Planning permission is not usually required to graze horses which is considered to be an agricultural use, but is required for the keeping of horses for recreational or commercial purposes. The distinction between 'grazing' and 'the keeping of' horses is not always clear but the Council will assume that horses are being 'kept' (rather than 'grazed') if:

  • the animals are being fed by imported food rather than off the land
  • the land is being used (wholly or in part) as a recreational or exercise area, or
  • the stocking density is too high to support the horses by grazing alone. As a general rule, each horse requires about 0.5-1 hectares (or 1.25 to 2.5 acres) of grazing of a suitable quality if no supplementary feeding is being provided.

10.34 Even where grazing is the primary use, any building (such as a field shelter) or other structure associated with the keeping of horses is likely to require permission.

10.35 Proposals should refer to the AVDC Design Guide for New Buildings in the Countryside.

General issues related to all equestrian development

Site suitability and site management

10.36 Any land associated with any equestrian development should be inherently suitable for keeping horses. It should be managed to maintain environmental quality, countryside character, the amenity of local residents and the welfare of the horses themselves.

10.37 A site where the ground is wet and boggy or where poisonous plants such as ragwort are present is unlikely to be suitable for keeping horses unless these issues can be fully addressed through pasture management. Where it is proposed to keep horses close to residential properties they should not be able to gain access to garden waste (including lawn clippings) or garden plants that may be toxic (such as yew and laburnum). There should be sufficient land to support the number of horses proposed without causing problems such as overgrazing.

10.38 Horses require regular supervision and, as a minimum, should be visited at least once a day. Consideration therefore needs to be given to the site management regime, which will vary according to the size and nature of the development. However, in all cases consideration should be given to basic operational requirements. For instance, field shelters or stables for private recreational use, should be reasonably close to the site access, with the water supply for the horses close to the buildings.

10.39 Any arrangements for the storage and disposal of manure should not cause amenity problems for neighbours (for example, through smell or flies), or adversely affect environmental quality  through pollution. The Council will have regard to the advice of environmental health officers and the Environment Agency on issues of this nature when making planning decisions.

Exercising horses

10.40 Where it is proposed to exercise horses primarily on-site, any exercise area should be separate from the area where the horses are kept or grazed. Where it is intended to exercise horses off-site, the routes or sites that will be used for exercise, such as nearby bridleways or areas of open land, should be safely accessible from the proposed development. Where there is likely to be a need for riding on public roads, the Council will have regard to any highway safety issues. The Council will also seek to ensure that routes and sites can be used for exercise without contributing to soil erosion (especially on well-used bridleways), harming vegetation or having a detrimental impact on wildlife interests, particularly in respects to designated sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). There may also be opportunities to enhance the biodiversity benefits of pasture.

Impact on the highway network

10.41 A site where horses are kept is likely to require access by towed horseboxes, horse-carrying lorries, or other large vehicles with limited manoeuvrability. The vehicular access to such a site should be capable of safely accommodating such vehicles. The routes to the site should be capable of accommodating the type and volume of traffic likely to be generated, without harming the character of the route itself or impacting the local roads, including the safety of horses and riders and traffic using the highway.

Types of equestrian development

Private recreation and leisure use

10.42 The keeping of horses for private recreation and leisure use are popular pastimes in the Vale, and for many owners shelters and stables are necessary for their horses' welfare.

10.43 Field shelters or stables will be permitted where they are intended to be used by horses currently present on a site or the horses it is intended to graze or keep on a site for private recreational use, provided that they are suitably designed and located. The need for a field shelter or stable for private recreational use may cease after a period of time. With this in mind, such structures should be built, as far as possible, so that they can be removed when they are no longer needed. The Council may use conditions or seek an agreement to require the removal of such structures in the event that the equestrian use ceases. Such structures will not generally be suitable for re-use under Policy C1.

10.44 Shelters and stables should normally be built of wood or other similar lightweight material, although a concrete base may be acceptable where this is required for the safety and comfort of the horses (in line with the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids, DEFRA December 2009). New stables of stone, brick or block work will not generally be permitted for private use although the conversion of existing building to stables for private recreational use may be acceptable under Policy C1.

Commercial recreation, leisure, training and breeding developments

10.45 Commercial recreation or leisure equestrian developments (such as livery stables and riding schools), and commercial training or breeding equestrian developments (such as racing stables and stud farms) may be acceptable uses in the countryside. Small-scale businesses, such as riding schools, may provide a useful form of farm diversification, but the Council may also permit larger-scale enterprises as they can help to diversify the wider rural economy. The Council may therefore require an application to be supported by a business plan that shows the proposed enterprise has a sound financial basis.

10.46 Due to their scale, such enterprises can be difficult to accommodate within existing buildings, though existing buildings or group of buildings should form the basis for a development of this nature. The Council may permit new building or an additional element of new building where there is an essential need, and there is no suitable alternative existing building available. Where an element of new build is permitted, it should be sensitively designed to integrate with the existing buildings. Elements of new building that are disproportionate in scale to, or out of character with, the existing buildings are unlikely to be acceptable.

Viability and change of use of commercial premises

10.47 Since commercial equestrian developments may be permitted in the countryside as an exception to the general policy of restraint, the Council will wish to be satisfied that any such enterprise is likely to be viable before allowing it. Such proposals should, therefore, be supported by a business plan that shows the proposed enterprise has a sound financial basis. In the event that a commercial equestrian business fails, the owner or occupier will need to produce evidence that the business is not viable, or cannot be made viable before a change of use may be permitted. Any change of use will be assessed against the criteria outline in Policy C1.

Ancillary development

Riding arenas and other exercise facilities

10.48 A riding arena (or manège) or other exercise facilities (such as horse exercisers) may be permitted in association with a commercial equestrian development or private recreation and leisure use. The Council will expect an applicant or private individual to be able to explain why an arena or other facility is required, and to be able to justify its intended size and scale. Siting and scale will be key issues in the design. An arena and other exercise facilities should be sited close to the buildings where the related enterprise is located, to limit the impact of the development on the landscape. Other key design issues include hard landscaping, including fencing and surfacing, landscape planting, drainage and the potential impacts on the amenity of nearby residents. Given the rural nature of the district, floodlighting will only be permitted where it is reasonably necessary and at an appropriate level for the use and where there are no harmful impacts on residential amenities.

10.49 Approvals for riding arenas or other exercise facilities for private recreation or leisure use will be subject to conditions to prevent them from being used commercially. An arena (or other facility) used for commercial purposes has a far greater neighbouring amenity impact than one used solely for private recreation and leisure purposes.

Occupational dwellings

10.50 The Council may permit occupational dwellings related to commercial equestrian enterprises, but will not permit such dwellings to enable people to live close to horses that are kept for private recreation or leisure use. Application for such occupational dwelling will be determined in accordance with Policy H3.

(4) C2 Equestrian development

General criteria

When considering proposals for horse-related development the Council will have particular regard to:

  1. The site being suitable for the keeping of horses and capable of supporting the number of animals proposed, having taken account of the arrangements for site management
  2. Adequate provision made for the exercising of horses without causing harm to rights of way, other equestrian routes, or other areas such as open land, that will be used for exercise
  3. Vehicular access to the site and the road network in the vicinity are capable of accommodating horse-related transport in a safe manner
  4. The impact on land of high agricultural or ecological value, or the fragmentation of farm units and the effect on the viability of farm units
  5. The environmental effects of the development in terms of noise, smell, light pollution or other disturbances
  6. The cumulative impacts of equestrian developments in the locality on the character of the countryside, appearance of the surrounding area, maintenance of the open nature and rural character of the land or on highway safety, and
  7. The scale, construction and appearance of the proposed development including the entrance and boundary treatment should be designed to minimise adverse impact on the landscape character and residential amenity.

Private recreation and leisure uses

In the case of a new field shelter or stable used for private recreation or leisure use:

  1. It will be for the exclusive use of the horses that are grazed or kept on site
  2. It should be of a scale that reflects the number of horses to be kept or grazed on site
  3. It should be built of material that is capable of being easily removed if the equestrian use ceases, and
  4. It should be sited, where possible, adjacent to existing buildings or natural features such as trees or hedgerows, be of a design and constructed of such materials as are appropriate to the locality and proposed use, and be landscaped or screened so as to minimise any visual intrusion.

Commercial recreation, leisure, training or breeding uses

In the case of commercial recreation, leisure, training or breeding enterprises, developments should re-use an existing building or group of buildings in the countryside. An element of new building or buildings may also be permitted alongside the re-use of an existing buildings (or group of buildings), provided that:

  1. it can be demonstrated that no other building or group of buildings is available that is capable to accommodating the proposed equestrian use,
  2. the element of new building is the minimum required to accommodate the proposed equestrian use (over and above the requirement to re-use the existing building or group of buildings), and
  3. any new buildings and ancillary facilities would be erected to integrate with the existing building (or group of buildings).

Failure of a commercial enterprise

The change of use of an existing equestrian commercial site to another use (other than agriculture or forestry) will not be permitted, unless it can be demonstrated that the existing use is not, or cannot be made, viable.

Ancillary development

In the case of a riding arena or other exercise facility:

  1. it is of a size and scale appropriate to the existing commercial enterprise, or the number of privately kept horses that will use the facility, and
  2. it is located close to other buildings on the site and is not visually intrusive in the landscape.

Renewable energy

10.51 Low carbon and renewable energy is defined as:

'energy for heating and cooling as well as generating electricity, provided through renewable sources that occur naturally and repeatedly in the environment (e.g. wind, water, solar, biomass and geothermal heat), or through low carbon technologies which generate significantly less carbon emissions than compared to conventional use of fossil fuels'. Low carbon includes energy efficiency (Fabric First principles in new build) and a range of different sectors (transport, construction, etc. as well as energy generation).

10.52 The European Union Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC) sets an overall target for 20% of the energy consumed in the European Union to come from renewable sources by 2020. This overall target is divided by country. The UK's target is 15% by 2020.

10.53 The Climate Change Act (2008) established a legal requirement for the UK to achieve an 80% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, with a 34% cut by 2020. The Planning and Energy Act (2008) allows Local Planning authorities' policies to impose reasonable requirements for a proportion of energy used in developments to be from renewable and low carbon sources in the locality of the development. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) recognises the key role planning plays in supporting the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy. To help increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy, the NPPF states in paragraph 97 that Local Planning authorities should:

  • have a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources
  • design policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development, while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily, including cumulative landscape and visual impacts, and
  • identify opportunities where development can draw its energy supply from decentralised, renewable or low carbon energy supply systems and for co-locating potential heat customers and suppliers.

10.54 In June 2015, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government set out considerations to be applied to proposed wind energy developments. It made clear that planning permission should only be granted if:

  • the site has been identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local Plan or neighbourhood plan
  • that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community have been fully addressed, and
  • the proposal has the local community's backing.

10.55 Local authorities in Buckinghamshire in partnership with Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership (the NEP) have led on the development of the Buckinghamshire Energy Strategy. The strategy establishes a long-term framework for delivering a shared vision for energy in Buckinghamshire, with the aims of improving energy efficiency of both domestic and commercial premises as well as delivering greater local generation with the benefits this produces being received by the community. The strategy action plans will set out short to medium term actions and targets and an identified route to delivery.

10.56 VALP aims to mitigate the impact of climate change by minimising greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the potential impacts of climate change by managing and reducing risks – particularly flood risk. Where possible, the Council will encourage the adaptation of older buildings to include improved energy and water efficiency and retrofitted renewable energy systems. It will also aim to reduce waste, increase recycling, support the recovery of value and energy from waste, and protect water quality within the VALP area.

(1) 10.57 VALP also seeks to ensure that all development schemes achieve greater efficiency in the use of natural resources, including measures to minimise energy use, improve water efficiency and promote waste minimisation and recycling. This will involve consideration of building design, new material and construction technologies, sustainable urban drainage scheme and water capture, layout and orientation, the use of sustainable (including re-used) materials, and planning a scheme's resilience in terms of the future implications of climate change. Developments should minimise construction waste and encourage reuse and recycling wherever possible.

10.58 Applications for renewable energy schemes (in particular those designed to meet and match generation to local consumption and installed alongside appropriately sized storage technologies) will be considered in light of the wider environmental, social and economic benefits . The Council will expect developments for energy generation to address potential adverse impacts, especially in relation to visual impact, through careful location, design and landscaping following the design principles set out in the VALP.

Carbon reduction and resource use

10.59 Building-related energy consumption is also a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The need to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency (such as high quality lighting, heating controls, insulation, draught proofing etc. alongside locally-produced clean, low carbon and renewable energy), is an important aspect of sustainable construction in new developments. However, sustainable construction for new and refurbished buildings incorporates more than just aspects of energy use. It also relates to other environmental impacts that buildings and inhabitants cause, for example, on water drainage and usage, waste generation and the use of unsustainable materials (in construction). Improved design of buildings can also lead to benefits in terms of, increased available income, reduced fuel poverty, ecology and quality of life for residents. Various standards for the efficient construction of new dwelling have been removed and are now covered by building regulations.

Off-site renewable energy

10.60 National policy promotes increasing energy efficiency, minimising energy consumption and developing renewable energy sources. The VALP supports development that promotes these objectives. An important element in this is to ensure that the Council embraces effective energy efficiency and the use of both on and off-site renewable energy in all new developments, helping to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and their effect on climate change. Proposals should normally be accompanied by a landscape assessment appropriate to the nature and scale of the proposal and its setting. The Council supports renewable and low carbon energy provision wherever any adverse impacts can be addressed satisfactorily. Given the significantly low available capacity in Aylesbury East[44], where such developments are large scale (over 5MW), they will only be considered by the Council where evidence of a robust feasibility has been conducted for energy storage. The potential local environmental, economic and community benefits of renewable energy schemes will be a key consideration in determining planning applications.

(13) C3 Renewable Energy

Planning applications involving renewable energy development will be encouraged provided that there is no unacceptable adverse impact, including cumulative impact, on the following issues:

  1. landscape and biodiversity including designations, protected habitats and species
  2. visual impacts on local landscapes
  3. the historic environment including designated and non designated assets and their settings
  4. the Green Belt, particularly visual impacts on openness
  5. aviation activities
  6. highways and access issues, and
  7. residential amenity.

In seeking to achieve carbon emissions reductions, the Council will promote an 'energy hierarchy'. An energy hierarchy identifies the order in which energy issues should be addressed and is illustrated as follows:

  1. reducing energy use, in particular by the use of sustainable design and construction measures
  2. supplying energy efficiently and giving priority to decentralised energy supply
  3. making use of renewable energy
  4. making use of allowable solutions, and
  5. an energy statement will be encouraged for proposals for major residential developments (over 10 dwellings), and all non-residential development, to demonstrate how the energy hierarchy has been applied.

With continually improving standards through building regulations, new buildings carry reduced need for heating and loads are based on winter heat and all year-round hot water demands. A feasibility assessment for district heating (DH) and cooling utilising technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP), including biomass CHP or other low carbon technology, will be encouraged for:

  1. all residential developments of 100 dwellings or more
  2. all residential developments in off-gas areas for 50 dwellings or more, and
  3. all applications for non-domestic developments above 1000sqm floorspace.

Where feasibility assessments demonstrate that decentralised energy systems are deliverable and viable and can secure 10% of their energy from decentralised and renewable or low carbon sources, such systems will be required as part of the development.

Planning permission will normally be granted for off-site renewable energy (for example, but not confined, to wind, solar, biomass and energy crops, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas), where it has been demonstrated that all the following criteria have been met:

  1. There is no significant adverse effect on landscape or townscape character, ecology and wildlife, heritage assets whether designated or not, areas or features of historical significance or amenity value
  2. there is no significant adverse impact on local amenity, health and quality of life as a result of noise, emissions to atmosphere, electronic interference or outlook through unacceptable visual intrusion, and
  3. there is no adverse impact on highway safety. Where development is granted, mitigation measures will be required as appropriate to minimise any environmental impacts. When considering the social and economic benefits, the Council will encourage community participation/ownership of a renewable energy scheme.

Aylesbury Vale is located within an area of water stress and as such the Council will seek a higher level of water efficiency than required in the Building Regulations, with developments achieving a limit of 110 litres/person/day.

Protection of public rights of way

10.61 Walking, cycling and horse riding have a valuable role in recreational and leisure trips, and in meeting local access needs. There is considerable potential to make horse riding, cycling and walking more attractive alternatives for short journeys, providing a healthy alternative option to the car. Such routes can also provide wildlife corridors and form part of a green infrastructure network. The Council will therefore support the provision of multi-user routes (those that can be used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders) and better integrate paths with the wider highway network and also with public transport and parking facilities.

10.62 Public rights of way are protected in law and comprise four types: footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic (BOAT). Buckinghamshire County Council has responsibility for Public rights of way, and publishes a rights of way improvement plan. It also promotes routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders in order to encourage sustainable access to the countryside. In recognition of the health benefits of walking, cycling and horse riding, AVDC also promotes a number of circular walks and rides.

10.63 Protection and enhancement of open space, sport and recreation sites, and sites of importance to nature conservation will assist in maintaining the green infrastructure network. Green corridors consist of canals, river corridors and hedgerows, together with public rights of way. These can provide areas for walking, cycling and horse riding and also provide opportunities for wildlife migration, which on a strategic scale can help to address the impact of climate change on biodiversity. Development proposals will be expected to retain and enhance existing green corridors, and maximise the opportunity to form new links between existing open spaces.

(3) C4 Protection of public rights of way

The Council will enhance and protect public rights of way to ensure the integrity and connectivity of this resource is maintained.

The protection and conservation of public rights of way needs to be reconciled with the benefits of new development, to maximise the opportunity to form links from the development to the wider public rights of way network, public transport, recreational facilities and green infrastructure.  Planning permission will not normally  be granted where the proposed development would cause unacceptable harm to the safe and efficient operation of public rights of way.

[44] Aylesbury East includes the Kingsbrook development

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