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Eden District Council
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Reuse of Existing Buildings

Reuse of Buildings in Settlements

Policy BE24

Within villages and hamlets, proposals involving the reuse of existing buildings will be permitted provided that assessment against the following criteria is judged acceptable:

  1. the effect on the amenity or privacy of occupiers of nearby property;
  2. the scale of the proposal in relation to its setting;
  3. the physical problems of conversion and the impact of any proposed rebuilding or extension;
  4. the preservation of essential elements of the building's character and setting;
  5. the adequacy of access, parking, service and amenity space provision;
  6. the impact on nature conservation interests and in particular any damage to, or loss of habitat of, species protected under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Reuse Of Buildings in the Countryside

Policy BE25

In the open countryside, outside villages and hamlets, the reuse of existing building will be permitted provided the criteria in Policy BE24 are all met satisfactorily and, in addition:

  1. the building is suitable for conversion;
  2. the new use is in sympathy with the rural character and will create employment opportunities or meet an identified local housing need; and
  3. there is no adverse effect on the landscape or the character of the surrounding landscape.

2.56 Policy BE24 provides a context for the assessment of proposals for the reuse of existing buildings in villages and hamlets, that is, in rural settlements comprising more than ten dwellings. Policy BE25 relates to the reuse of buildings outside such settlements. Unused and underused buildings represent a valuable resource which may be utilised to provide new dwellings or workshop space or may contribute to the diversification of activity on a farm holding. However, in view of the critical importance to the achievement of an acceptable scheme of the structural condition of the building concerned, and the internal and external design and finishes and site treatment, applicants may expect the Council to exercise its power under Article 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order 1995 to ask for supporting detail in relation to many proposals of this type. In particular applicants are likely to be asked to furnish details of structural condition in the form of a survey prepared by an architect, chartered engineer or chartered building surveyor. In cases where the finished appearance of the building is considered to be a critical issue applicants may also be asked to submit a fully detailed scheme prior to the determination of an application. Some uses, such as the formation of workspace and the provision of camping barns, generally demand a minimal amount of external and internal alteration and it is for this reason, and in the interest of promoting the diversification of the rural economy, that preference will be given to conversion for such uses.

2.57 Two further considerations will have a bearing on proposals to convert existing buildings. Firstly, some of these buildings are listed as being of architectural or historic interest. The protection of that value requires that the building should undergo the minimum of internal or external alteration and that particular features of interest be conserved. Conversion to residential use normally involves a need for considerable internal subdivision and the insertion of new window and other openings in external walls. Therefore it is likely to prove appropriate to consider alternative uses, including employment, which are more sympathetic to the retention of the building with little alteration. Secondly, unused and underused buildings, especially those of traditional design and construction, provide habitats for some protected species, notably barn owls and some species of bats. This possibility should be considered during the preparation of schemes of conversion and provision made to retain and protect any nest or roost site which may be identified. This is a statutory requirement under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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