LPP2: Site Allocations and Development Management Policies

Development in rural areas

3.28  The NPPF sets out that a number of forms of development may be acceptable within rural areas including:

  • Sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business, both through the conversion of existing buildings and well-designed new buildings.
  • Proposals to develop and diversify agricultural and other land-based rural businesses
  • Sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside
  • Proposals to retain and develop accessible local services and community facilities, such as local shops, places of worship and public houses.
  • Essential rural workers' homes
  • Developments that would represent the optimal viable use of a heritage asset or would secure the future of heritage assets
  • Proposals to re-use redundant or disused buildings (with the added test for housing developments that there would need to be an enhancement to the immediate setting)
  • A dwelling of exceptional quality
  • Mineral extraction
  • Infrastructure and utilities, including waste facilities
  • Affordable housing exception schemes
  • Extension or alteration of a building, including development which would involve the subdivision of an existing residential dwelling.

3.29  Policy RE1 in Local Plan Part 1 states that in areas shown as the Countryside beyond the Green Belt, the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside will be recognised and safeguarded in accordance with the NPPF.

3.30  To expand on Policy RE1 and the NPPF, the policy below sets out criteria which will apply to all development in rural areas, derived from the key characteristics of Waverley's rural areas and in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. The intention is to balance facilitating appropriate development with protecting the character and beauty of rural areas.

3.31  A policy approach which sets out specific forms of development which will be encouraged or constrained in the rural areas would be inflexible and it is not considered that there is justification for such an approach.

DM15: Development in rural areas

In rural areas, development should:

  1. Not be isolated from everyday services and facilities, while maximising opportunities for walking and cycling and seeking to avoid dependency on private vehicles, taking account of the nature and functional needs of forms of development which are acceptable in rural areas;
  2. Recognise the natural beauty and undeveloped character which is intrinsic to the open countryside, together with the distinctive character and pattern of development in areas of urban-rural transition and rural settlements, while making efficient use of land;
  3. Avoid the loss of areas of best and most versatile agricultural land.

Where it is necessary to demonstrate that a development is truly outstanding or innovative in design, this should be subject to a design review panel process.

 Explanatory Notes:

3.32  Rural areas are defined as those areas outside of any settlement boundary, irrespective of whether the land is in the Green Belt or Countryside beyond the Green Belt.

3.33  The introduction of substantial built form into the countryside has the potential to have a harmful urbanising impact on the countryside, including in areas adjacent to existing settlements. The benefits of any such development will need to be considered against the level of harm, taking into account the extent and form of development and the sensitivity of the site and surrounding area to development. All rural areas, including those outside of designated landscapes, are potentially sensitive to development, and as a starting point developers are advised to consider the Surrey Landscape Character Assessment and the Waverley Landscape Report . When considering the need for and benefits of development in the Countryside, the Council will be mindful of the Spatial Strategy set out in Policy SP2 which sets out that the built up areas of the four main settlements, together with site allocations, should be the focus of development in the Borough.

3.34  Development in the rural areas will often not have good public transport connections to everyday services, and developers should seek to introduce measures which minimise private vehicular movements. The nature of some rural development, such as agricultural enterprises, may make such measures unnecessary or impractical.

3.35  Isolated new development will normally be inconsistent with the objectives of sustainable development and be resisted by the Council unless there are special circumstances which justify the development; such as where the type of development is appropriate for the location, or the re-use of a redundant building would enhance its immediate setting.

Local Plan Part 1 parent policies

SP2 - Spatial Strategy

RE1 - Countryside Beyond the Green Belt

RE2 - Green Belt

RE3 - Landscape Character



Refusal, and dismissal at appeal, of proposals which fail to recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside.


Protection and enhancement of the beauty and character of rural areas through avoiding inappropriate forms of development.