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Planning Applications Planning Guidelines

Planning – Prior Notification
by Roger Drury, Essex Planning Secretary

The Government appears to continue to tinker with the planning system in order to facilitate rapid planning approval and thereby stimulate economic growth.
One of the latest schemes is called Prior Notification whereby, if an applicant gets the agreement of his two adjacent neighbours to his proposed development, an application will be fast tracked without reference to others who may be affected. The aim is to limit objections and thus speed up the approval process.
We have only seen two such applications, both in Little Horkesley, where the neighbours most affected, those living opposite, were not consulted and thereby denied a voice.  DVS objected to both applications which were quickly refused, we think, by virtue of being in the Dedham Vale AONB.
If you hear of any Prior Notification applications it would be use if you could advise us so we can track such applications and build a database on where they are being used and how successful they are.

Essex Planning Applications

Colchester Local Plan - Dedham Vale Society's response to the Preferred Options Document. Letter dated August 2016 (pdf 87Kb

Land Adjoining Church of All Saints, London Road, Great Horkesley Colchester (Greenhouses site) - Application No: 160906
Removal of the existing glasshouses and ancillary buildings; change of use and replacement with a new residential scheme comprisingof 18 private dwellings and 4 affordable dwellings along with enhancement measures
The Dedham Vale Society has concerns over the above application: Letter dated May 2016 (pdf 92Kb)
The planning Committee Meeting to decide this application will be held at 6pm on Thursday 20 October in the Town Hall

Thrift Farm Nayland Road, Great Horkesley Colchester CO6 4JP - Application No: 145577
Erection of one poultry run and one aviary.
The Dedham Vale Society has concerns over the above application: Letter dated 22 August 2014 (pdf 92Kb)

Suffolk Planning Applications

Erection of 144 dwellings including 360sqm of single storey courtyard development to contain 4 B1 (business) units, public open space, associated landscaping and infrastructure.
The Dedham Vale Society has concerns over the above application: Letter dated July 2015 (pdf 140Kb)

The Dedham Vale Society has concerns over the above proposal: Comments dated 18 November 2014 (pdf 98Kb)

Land South of Pannington Hall, Pannington Hall Lane, Wherstead - Application No: B/13/01476
Erection of 1 no. wind turbine with a maximum overall height (to vertical blade tip) of up to 130 metres; together with, one new vehicular access from the public highway, new on-site access tracks, associated crane pad and transformer kiosk, control building and on-site underground cables, temporary construction compound and laydown area, and other ancillary works.
The Dedham Vale Society has concerns over the above application: Email dated 22 February 2014 (pdf 12Kb)

The Society's Guidelines For Good Building Practice in The AONB
by David Eking, DVS Planning Secretary for Suffolk

No brief guide to building design can be any substitute for the years of study and observation which goes into successful building design. Architecture and building design is a huge subject, therefore these few paltry paragraphs can hardly claim to give the would-be developer all he or she needs to know. The Society maintains that there is a need for some control of building character in the Vale and the following paragraphs are intended to give some guidance. As with all matters of such far-reaching importance, there is no substitute for consulting an architect or designer with a proven track record in this type of work.

The Society recognises the need for occasional building works on the scale of extensions, modern and unsuitable dwelling replacement and also cases of development where sites have been ear-marked. The new buildings must be in a sympathetic style, have a suitable plan and form and be constructed of materials using building methods that will conserve and enhance the area.

New building should accord with the local vernacular. As the Dedham Vale Society uses the life and work of the great artist, John Constable, as its benchmark, we mean that the buildings must be of the tradition in building which existed in the Vale up to his time. Constable has lent his name to the area and his faithful record of the landscape villages and buildings gives us a clear reference point for conservation and enhancement.

Constable came at a turning point in the Vale's history. During his life-time the rise of the Industrial Revolution with railways, mills, industrialists houses, and the worsening poverty of the unfranchised produced a hiatus in the relationship of the country people with the land. The present trend for commuter suburbs and estates grouped near railway stations giving fast services to London is part of the trend of urbanisation. This demographic shift commencing with the dissociation of the population from the land in the early nineteenth century and subsequent urban encroachment into rural areas, now at its worst, threatens the rural character of the Vale. The Society exists to help protect this fragile character.

Building Layout

The layout, by which we mean the site planning and general co-ordination of buildings with respect to their site and adjacent buildings, should follow vernacular models. This would exclude ribbon development although replacement of existing post-war bungalows would be advantageous. It would also exclude the Ranch-style house with prominent, double garage and extensive concrete turning area in front of the house. Dwellings should have gardens to the street, where space allows, in preference to hard paving. The anti-social street frontage of many new buildings giving space solely for motor cars, boats, etc. is destructive of the rural atmosphere. The garage should be sited in a subordinate position and should be designed to give the appearance of a free standing building of lower importance than the house.


The proportions, form and ornament of dwellings should be based on one of the traditions of architecture, for example the orders of classical architecture or construction based on oak timber frame. The size and bulk of the building, eaves or parapet heights, plan configuration and roof pitch should pay due regard to vernacular precedents. Size and proportion of windows and doors, chimneys and all other architectural elements should be faithful to the particular type of building whether house, cottage, terrace house, or extension.
The scale of the building should recognise historical patterns of development. Existing large houses are either set in large grounds or along High Street frontages. New large houses shoe horned into small plots are very rarely successful.

Materials and Workmanship

Roofs: Normally pitched roofs would be constructed of hand-made clay plain tiles at about 48 degree pitch, pan tiles or other traditional tiles, thatch done in the traditional way, natural slate at about 22.5 degrees minimum. Flat roofs should be confined to small areas.

Walls: Hand-made buff facing bricks to match Suffolk white brickwork, soft red or other hand-made bricks in traditional bond using stretchers, headers and closers, traditional mortar joints (not weather struck) to the mortar which should be a lime mortar. There should not be a great show of different colour bricks forming patterns except, for example, traditional diapering stretcher and header patterns using subtle colour variations. The arches over windows and doors should not be soldier courses supported on steel members. They would preferably be pointed, round or shallow ungauged or rubbed and gauged arches.
Lime-washed render which can be lined, panelled, pargeted or rough-cast render or otherwise textured and in traditional colours using lime or mineral based washes or paints.

Flint panels, stone ashlar, stone dressings.

Half timbering in the traditional manner should have rendered or brick panels inside the timbering or be rendered over externally.

Weatherboard either painted or in some cases stained or clear treated. Other traditional methods of wall construction may also be appropriate.

Joinery: Windows and doors should be purpose built to traditional profiles. Sash windows and casements would be normal but large ranch sliding doors, excessively large pane sizes and plastic or anodised finishes would not be suitable. Traditional leadlight panes are acceptable in the appropriate context. Doors should not have half round fanlights in their upper panel. Porches should be either glazed as a small conservatory or open. Garage doors should ideally be side hung in painted timber joinery. Conservatories should be of traditional design and construction.

Drives should be in hoggin, shingle, stone setts, stone flags or gravel dressed tarmac where hard. Concrete should not be used as a finishing material.

Garden and boundary walls should be brickwork as described above, wooden either as shiplap or pickets, or iron railings. Cement mortar, stretcher bond brick walls with expansion joints should not be used.


Hedges of the appropriate species greatly add charm. The arboriculturalist at the appropriate Local Authority is normally willing to give advice.

Tree planting in the grounds of new houses should be appropriate local species and exclude hybrid Cypress such as leylandii.


The Vale is not a place for architectural innovation and improvisation which is so often destructive of the highly valued landscape. If such buildings are allowed, they must be erected under the control of a designer of proven and sympathetic capabilities. Architectural modesty resulting from the applied observation of the area’s buildings, street configuration and cultivated countryside is necessary to maintain the Vale's distinctive character. The prospective developer must bear in mind that this is a unique landscape, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is the smallest in the United Kingdom. In spite of the most dramatic development pressures, we exist to defend it from being permanently scarred.

The Planning Process
by David Eking, DVS Planning Secretary for Suffolk


1. If you live in the AONB and wish to make alterations or additions to your property it is highly probable that you will need "Planning Permission" before you carry out any work. If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building it is a near certainty that you will. Although in more normal circumstances you can carry out minor additions and alterations without planning consent, so called "permitted development rights", these are unlikely to operate in the AONB and certainly will not if you are living in a listed building or within a conservation area.

What to do

2. The most important piece of advice the Society can give you is to take advice from the professionals before you do anything. If you have an agent, eg architect, builder or surveyor he or she will probably know the rules and guide you. If you are acting on your own you should consult the Planning and Building Control Division of Babergh District Council. The Council has a comprehensive website ( and you should go to:

  • Planning and Building Control
  • Planning Information Summary
  • How to Contact Planning ( this gives a complete list of the relevant names, telephone and email addresses of the relevant Planning Control staff ­ we are in the Eastern area) Suffolk Planning Panel (from which you can download the necessary forms)
  • Supplementary Advice (this has specific sections on Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings).

3. Planning Reception at Babergh District Council (01473 825858) is always willing to help and will direct you to the right officer or department. The Council's Planning Policies are set out in the Local Plan (currently Alteration No 2 which was adopted this summer). This can be consulted at the Council Offices. The most important Chapters from the point of view of those who live in the AONB are:

  • Ch 2 ­ Environment
  • Ch 3 ­ Settlement Policy and Housing (in particular policies HS02 ­ HS05 and HS 17 (Replacement Dwellings)
  • Ch 6 ­ Countryside and the Rural Economy (in particular policies CR01 ­ 04 (on the AONB), CR30 ­ 31 (Barn Conversions)
  • Ch 7 ­ The Built Environment and Conservation (in particular policies CN09 and CN10 (Listed Buildings), CN02a and CN03a (Conservation areas)

The document is over 300 pages long plus over 150 maps and plans. It should only be consulted if you have a particular problem!

4. Provided you follow the rules you will find that modest alterations and extensions which are sensitively designed and fit in with the exceptional landscape of the AONB will receive planning consent without difficulty.

5. Planning legislation is constantly changing ­ there are for example new rules on the submission of planning applications for listed buildings and conservation areas effective from 10 August 2006. Once again ask advice before you submit an application.

6. I am always happy to try to help with a particular problem. The best way to contact me is by email ( or by phone at home after 1900hrs (01206 337477).