DC Casebook: Agricultural development - Temporary use approved for fruit store

An inspector has allowed an appeal by the owners of a fruit farm in Kent for equestrian use of a farm building for four years but dismissed a second appeal for a replacement sand school.

The structure had been built in 2008 for fruit storage as permitted development. The appellants claimed that as fruit production had declined its agricultural use was unnecessary in the short term. They proposed to convert the building to stables with storage and accommodation linked to equestrian facilities at the farm, arguing that this would diversify the farm's economic base.

The inspector had regard to the judgement in McCarthy v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and South Cambridgeshire District Council [2006], where the court held that due consideration should be given to the degree to which any harm caused by a development would be removed at the end of a temporary period.

He concluded that the building's impact on the area's character and appearance was significant and permanent permission for its equestrian use would not be acceptable. However, he accepted that the changes were reversible and would not change its external appearance. Since fruit production was predicted to increase in 2014, he ruled that a temporary permission until then and limited to the appellants' own use was appropriate.

These circumstances did not apply to the sand school, he held, because this would be separated from the appeal building by open land and its position would erode the character of the countryside. The extension of equestrian operations into open countryside divorced from the main complex was unacceptable, he concluded.

DCS Number 100-068-732

Inspector John Papworth; Hearing.

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