THE GROWING POPULARITY OF TREEHOUSES
As the pandemic continues and we find ourselves spending more time at home, many of us are looking to maximise the space available within our homes and looking to create new ancillary living spaces.
Treehouses offer a unique opportunity to gain additional living, office, holiday or play space. They also fulfil the common urge to escape the modern world, get back to nature and regain our childlike curiosity. Indeed with parents evermore aware of the impact of screen time on their children, the chance to find moments of surprise, excitement and a sense of adventure for their offspring, have become evermore attractive, often picking up on references within books they may have read as children themselves.
Treehouses are fundamentally romantic pieces of architecture and their designs are therefore often whimsical and inventive, breaking the rules of normal houses and buildings. This excites people and their design is usually based centrally around the idea of fun. As a result of this, we really enjoy the process of designing and exploring these with our clients.
Subject to the scale and location of the treehouse, these can be achieved via Permitted Development Rights, however, they often require planning permission.
Rural Solutions have successfully gained planning consent for a number of treehouses within estates across England. However, they are not without their challenges. Where proposed outside of a defined residential curtilage and outside of a settlement limit, they can be viewed as a new residential development requiring full planning permission.
The key matters for consideration include their impact on the subject trees and ecology, the intended use of the treehouse, impact on the character of the landscape within which they are located, and more fundamentally the principle of new development in the countryside.
Rural Solutions have recently had success in obtaining planning consent at appeal in Cheshire. In this case, the treehouse was located outside of but close to the residential curtilage of a large dwelling within a private estate of which there was no public views or rights of way. The relevant Development Plan included policies restricting the extension of residential curtilages and development in the countryside. The treehouse application was refused by the Local Planning Authority as being contrary to these policies.
In determining the appeal, the Planning Inspector considered that it was important to make a balanced judgment to determine the level of harm that would be caused should the development be allowed to proceed. On this basis, it was concluded that despite being contrary to policy the level of harm on the character of the countryside was not substantive to warrant dismissing the proposal and the appeal was allowed.
This decision provides case law applicable to a range of small countryside developments where Local Authorities are encouraged to undertake this balanced judgment at a local level.