Architects have called on the government to protect the Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7) ‘contemporary country house clause’ amid fears it could be scrapped as part of wide-ranging planning reforms
Introduced in 2004, the clause sanctions the building of ‘truly outstanding and ground-breaking’ one-off houses on green-belt land.
As few as 20 projects have won planning under the clause which experts now warn is unlikely to survive the government’s cull of planning policy.
Piers Gough, partner at CZWG, described the potential loss as ‘a retrograde step in the pathetic pursuit of Localism’.
George Ferguson, chairman of Ferguson Mann Architects, said the clause was the ‘only bit of legislation that is specific about giving preference to quality of architecture.’
Keith Williams of Keith Williams Architects explained: ‘Part of the legacy of architecture in this country has been the reinvention of the country house. That legacy should be enshrined in the new legislation.’
Planning experts have confirmed the policy is almost certainly on the way out as the government consolidates numerous planning documents. Ian Anderson, head of national planning at CB Richard Ellis, said: ‘The government is hell-bent on reducing thousands of pages of policies to tens of pages.’
Matthew Spry, director at planning consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, added: ‘A number of policies will get squeezed out. The extent to which the country house clause has any ministerial ownership is doubtful.’
The clause was first established in 1997 by then environment secretary John Gummer. Ministers tried to remove the policy in 2003 but a backlash – led by the AJ – meant the policy was reintroduced.
Stuart Fraser, partner at Make, won permission under the clause this week for footballer Gary Neville’s flower-shaped house (pictured). He said its removal would make such a project ‘near on impossible.’
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said a decision on the clause had yet to be taken.