Paragraph 55 Houses

Would you like to build your dream home in open countryside?  

Unfortunately if everyone was able to do that then you might not be looking at countryside any longer but an extensive suburb overrun by ride-on mowers. For this reason one of the fundamental tenets of the UK planning system is that new housing in the “open countryside”, that is everywhere outside of defined settlements, will be strictly controlled. By strictly controlled we mean refused, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework sets out four such exceptional circumstances in which you might be able to achieve your dream.

The agricultural worker clause

The heritage clause

This is applicable where the proposal would effectively save a listed building from otherwise dereliction.

The re-use and enhancement clause

This seems to give greater flexibility towards barn (or other) conversions than its predecessor policy document PPS7 that gave a strong preference for economic reuse of such buildings. Paragraph 55 indicates that an exceptional circumstance justifying a new isolated dwelling would be “where the development would re-use redundant or disused buildings and lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting” – so no requirement to demonstrate that a business use wouldn’t be viable.

The Country House clause

This is where the exceptional architectural quality of the proposal is sufficient justification in itself.

In order to achieve this the design justified under this policy must:

  • Be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas
  • Reflect the highest standards in architecture
  • Significantly enhance its immediate setting
  • Be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.


You can download the full National Planning Policy Frame Work  Click Here