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Policy H/DC: Dwellings in the countryside

What will this policy do?

This policy will set out the types of residential development that may be acceptable in the countryside outside of defined settlement boundaries.

Proposed policy direction

Residential development is generally restricted in the countryside to avoid unsustainable development, but there are some types of residential development that need a countryside location.

The policy will have a number of sub-components each with its own requirements for the development to be acceptable, and it is proposed that these are carried forward from the South Cambridgeshire 2018.

For replacement dwellings in the countryside, set out that they will only be permitted where their design quality, scale, and impact on the countryside and local character are consistent with other policies within the Local Plan, and where a replacement dwelling in the is not materially larger than the one it replaces. Make clear that the replacement of caravans and mobile homes with permanent dwellings will not be permitted.

For extensions to existing dwellings in the countryside, set out that the extension must be in scale and character with the existing dwelling and must not materially change the impact of the dwelling on its surroundings. Also set out that where an original dwelling is subject to an occupancy condition, it must be demonstrated that the extension can be supported by the viability of the enterprise and that the cost of its occupation will not be unaffordable to workers that meet the occupancy condition.

For the reuse of buildings in the countryside, set out that the change of use and adaptation of redundant or disused buildings to residential use will be permitted where:

  • the buildings are unsuitable for employment use, or it is demonstrated through marketing that there is no demand for their development for employment use,
  • the buildings are structurally sound and are of permanent construction,
  • there will be an enhancement to the immediate setting of the buildings,
  • the form, bulk, design, landscaping and materials used in the change of use and adaptation are sensitive to the character and appearance of the building and locality, and
  • there is a safe vehicular site access.


For dwellings to support rural businesses, set out that permanent dwellings will be permitted if it can be demonstrated that: there is a clear need for one or more workers to be readily available at most times, the enterprise has been established for at least three years and is financially viable, there is no other suitable or available accommodation within the site / holding, and the proposed dwelling is no larger than that required to meet the reasonable needs of the enterprise. Make clear that the new dwelling will be subject to an occupancy condition, and that the removal of the occupancy condition will only be permitted in specific circumstances. Set out when a temporary dwelling may be permitted.


For dwellings of exceptional quality in the countryside, set out that a single new bespoke dwellings of exceptional quality will be permitted provided that:

  • the dwelling would reflect the highest standards in architecture and be recognised as truly outstanding or innovative,
  • the dwelling would significantly enhance its immediate setting,
  • the nature, size and design of the dwelling and site are sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area and to wider views, and
  • that there are no existing dwellings on the site capable of being replaced.

Why is this policy needed?

South Cambridgeshire is a predominantly rural district with an attractive and much valued open environment. As a result, the area is prone to speculative proposals that could constitute unsustainable development. The policy will use a range of criteria to control development in a way that supports rural communities, reduces unsustainable living patterns and minimises the carbon impacts of new housing.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses to the First Conversation indicated support for policy approaches that support the rural economy by, for example, protecting employment land and supporting existing businesses in rural areas.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy - Not considered a reasonable alternative because it would lead to uncertainty as to how development proposals would be considered.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • : Topic paper 7: Homes

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire 2018

  • Policy H/13: Extensions to Dwellings in the Countryside
  • Policy H/14: Replacement Dwellings in the Countryside
  • Policy H/15: Countryside Dwellings of Exceptional Quality
  • Policy H/17: Re-use of Buildings in the Countryside for Residential Use
  • Policy H/19: Dwellings to Support a Rural-based Enterprise

Cambridge 2018 - None

Tell us what you think

Our consultation for this phase is now closed.