Parking area allowed at harbour in outstanding landscape

Additional parking was allowed at a Hampshire yacht harbour, an inspector deciding that the benefits of the proposal outweighed limited harm to an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The inspector observed that the harbour was a busy and overcrowded centre for recreational boating and yachting activities with some related commercial undertakings. He found that the evidence concerning the need for additional parking was both cogent and convincing. He was sure that grass verges leading to the harbour were used for parking on occasions and judged that every possible place to park a car within the harbour was likely to be used at peak times, and congestion, inconsiderate and even dangerous parking practices were likely to happen.

The proposal entailed the construction of a new parking area for about 50 cars on an untidy and overgrown site adjacent to a boundary of the harbour. The inspector had no doubt that the development would be visible from various viewpoints as an incursion into the open belt of undeveloped land lying immediately to the side of the harbour, and a bund would introduce a new feature into the otherwise flat landscape.

He found, however, that a number of considerations led him to the conclusion that the development should be permitted. Firstly, the site was an eyesore. Secondly, bunds would screen the parked cars. Thirdly, the setting was such that the site would be visually subservient to the conglomeration of structures, large vehicles and yachts present at the harbour. Fourthly was the issue of need.

The shortcomings of the car parking facilities meant that cars were parked haphazardly, sometimes in neighbouring residential areas. Potential visitors might be deterred because of parking difficulties, trade in the harbour might suffer and boat owners might find it difficult to visit their vessels. Finally, he noted that Natural England raised no objection, stating that whilst the site was within the AONB, it would not impact on the reasons for which the site was so designated.

He decided that the combined weight of all these considerations was sufficient to override the limited harm to the AONB.

Inspector David Harmston; Written representations

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