A farmer's planning permission for Rame Head is once again under scrutiny after months of controversy.

Chris Wilton was granted planning permission by Cornwall Council to build his new house on land at Rame Head last summer.

However, a High Court judgement quashed Cornwall Council's planning approval in May.

Now, Cornwall Council is set to put the decision before the East Sub Planning Committee.

The planning approval originally granted on August 17, 2020 for a new-build house on a green-field site within the Rame Head Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was challenged in the High Court by the Rame Protection Group (RPG).

READ MORE: High Court quashes planning permission for Rame Head farmer

The group was concerned about the precedent being set if a planning committee could set aside protective legislation and disregard the recommendations for refusal by the Principal Planning Officer and the Planning Officer of the AONB in order to grant planning approval.

Mr Wilton’s planning application to build a new four-bedroom family home on land he owns was granted under exception rules, which allow homes to be built for agricultural workers.

He said: “The farm always used to have a cottage, but since the estate took it back in hand in 1997, I had to live in a mobile home from 2001. I was lucky enough to succeed the farm tenancy as joint tenant with my father in 2015, and in 2018 my second child was born, and the mobile home was no longer suitable for permanent accommodation, for a family of four.

“To move away from the farm will cost, in terms of money, travelling, fuel (climate change impact), just getting to and fro, not to mention the huge loss will be the Dartmoor ponies on Rame Head in particular.

"They require me to be on call at any time to deal with emergencies, and if my family are living miles away, keeping them will simply not be an option.

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The High Court judge, Mrs Justice Tipples, concluded that although Policy 7 had been invoked, which permits new buildings for agricultural workers in the open countryside where need can be shown for a property in a specific location, the policy did not make mention of the AONB.

The AONB is referred to in Policy 23 of the local plan and deals specifically with the requirements for developments within these designated areas.

South West Farmer: The proposed house designThe proposed house design

Policy 23 specifies that any new buildings should be of an appropriate scale, mass and design, that they should meet a local need and be located so as to address the sensitivity and capacity of protected landscapes.

The judge’s view was that even if this had applied, Policy 23 has an additional clause which says that development proposals must also ‘conserve and enhance the landscape character and beauty of the AONB’.

She ruled that this could not be true in this case.

Following this High Court ruling, any planning committee will have to the tests set out by the judge. These are:

  • That a decision to override the conclusions of the professional planners would have to set out clear reasons for doing so
  • That proposals to build in green field sites in the AONB have now to conform to the requirements of Section 23 of the Local Development Plan (‘Proposals must conserve and enhance the landscape character and natural beauty of the AONB’ 23 S.2a)
  • That the proposed development is within the area of the Cornwall Heritage Coast. The only developments in areas of undeveloped coast that can be supported are those for the public good (e.g. flood defences and measures to improve public access and enjoyment). Otherwise: ‘All proposals must conserve and enhance the distinctive coastal landscape and seascape qualities and character’ (S 2.156). ‘In areas of undeveloped coast, outside main settlements, only development requiring a coastal location and that cannot be achieved elsewhere, will be acceptable’. (23 S.2)

The Planning Committee meeting is due to take place on July 12.