DC Casebook: Commercial and Industrial - Salvage business survives enforcement

An architectural salvage business can continue to operate from a site in north-east London after an inspector found that its contribution to sustainability objectives outweighs green belt harm.

The site lay in an area formerly covered by extensive commercial glasshouses. It appeared to the inspector that the coverage of the site with salvaged materials and the activity generated by members of the public visiting the site would have a significantly greater impact on openness than a horticultural operation.

The use did not help safeguard the countryside from encroachment, he reasoned. He accepted that long-standing sheds on the site would not prejudice openness but was concerned that a new building was not used for any purposes regarded as appropriate in PPG2. He concluded that the change of use and the new building harmed the green belt.

The appellant claimed that as one of a small number of architectural salvage specialists in the London area, he could provide restoration services not available elsewhere. He further argued that the business promoted waste and recycling objectives. The inspector was not convinced that other sites were unavailable and noted that the salvaged items were sought after and could not reasonably be regarded as waste.

However, he accepted that the business provided a useful service by creating a market for salvage, making a contribution to sustainability, and provided significant employment in a number of trades. Given these factors, limited visual harm to the area and the likelihood that the site would otherwise become derelict, he decided that very special circumstances justified permission.

DCS Number 100-068-759

Inspector Stephen Brown; Inquiry.

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