An interesting article on the RIBA’s member’s update email this week: they’ve attempted to get hold of some statistics on Paragraph 55/79 applications across the UK.
Para 55/79 is a favourite ‘loophole’ beloved of self-builders who want to gain Planning Permission for single dwellings in open countryside, but for those who are unfamiliar with it, it basically says that an exception to the usual Planning rules can be made for dwellings of exceptional architectural quality or technical innovation, which enhance their setting.
We always used to advise people that Para 55/79 was not an easy option by any means – that it was likely to be a costly approach, and that success was far from guaranteed. The trouble was, nobody actually had any figures to substantiate this.
The figures the RIBA have now quoted are not reliable (many Authorities didn’t respond to their request for information, and even on those that did, I’ve already spotted at least two Para 55/79 applications that I know about personally that haven’t been recorded), but they are at least better than nothing. They’re saying that of the 2/3rds of LPA’s that responded, they have recorded 115 applications (over 6 years). Crudely extrapolated for the 1/3rd of LPA’s that didn’t respond, that might take the figures to ~173 applications over England as a whole (representing an average of about 29 per year).
Of the 109 recorded applications, 66 were approved, 43 refused, and 6 were withdrawn.
That represent a surprisingly high approval rate of 57%. For reference, this compares to a general approval rate for minor residential applications of around 73%.
So while it still certainly shouldn’t be viewed as an easy option, and the overall figures for such approvals are very low (about a quarter of a percent of even just the self-build market), the percentage success rates for planning approvals are actually quite encouraging.
TL:DR version: Paragraph 55/79 permission may not be as difficult to gain approval for as we thought it was…