Farm attraction ruled out in green belt

An inspector has upheld an enforcement notice ordering the closure of a farm centre in the north London green belt, finding no very special circumstances to justify its retention.

The centre had been developed as a diversification scheme to provide family fun and education at a farm in a conservation area. It kept goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, ducks, wallabies and birds such as snowy owls and storks. In 2010, it received 46,000 visitors over 11 months, with an average of 290 visits a day in August.

The inspector decided that fences, car parking and animal and bird enclosures detracted from the site's open character and rural views, thus failing to preserve or enhance a conservation area's character and appearance, and that there had been some encroachment into the countryside, resulting in inappropriate development.

Conditions restricting car park size and opening hours would not limit the harm because the appellant had made it clear that such restrictions would be unacceptable, she decided.

She accepted that the centre provided jobs and had an education role, while the site's accessibility was also an asset. But she concluded that harm to the openness and visual amenity of the green belt, the conservation area and neighbours' amenity weighed heavily against the development.

Inspector: Diane Lewis; Hearing.

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