DC Casebook: Commercial and industrial - Green belt employment site passed

After recovering an application for large-scale development in the Essex green belt, the secretary of state has accepted an inspector's recommendation to allow the scheme.

The central part of the 34ha site contained a car breaker's yard together with other vehicle dismantlers, small workshops and storage uses. Other parts of the site were used for open storage of broken motor vehicles. The applicants proposed 69,300m2 of class B1, B2 and B8 uses. They and the council presented a joint case for the scheme, arguing a pressing need to create more than 10,000 new job opportunities by 2026 to meet the district's identification as a key employment area.

The inspector noted that although part of the land was identified as a major developed site within the green belt, the proposed development would occupy a larger area and so very special circumstances needed to be proven. In his opinion, the scheme would remove an ugly area of land, improve the amenity of the green belt, create new footpaths and make a significant contribution to employment opportunities.

The council's adopted core strategy accepted that part of the site should be allocated for employment purposes. The proposal would reduce the need to make further large-scale releases of green belt land and the site would be accessible by a range of transport, the inspector found. Despite parish council concerns about the proposed access arrangements, he observed that the highway authorities agreed that these were acceptable subject to mitigation measures.

Inspector: Michael Ellison; Inquiry

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