Forestry building credentials scrutinised in green belt

The erection of a building within the Kent green belt was judged inappropriate and unjustified by an inspector who concluded that the appellant operated a land clearance and arboricultural contracting business rather than being directly involved in forestry.

Planning permission had been granted confirming the lawful use of the site as a tree surgeon’s woodyard along with the storage of timber and woodchip. The appellant stated that he needed a building to store logs and machinery which were directly related to forestry. The council responded, arguing that the activities undertaken on the site did not fall within the definition of a forestry use and consequently the development was both inappropriate and eroded the openness of the green belt.

The inspector agreed with this view and acknowledged that there was little information on whether the scheme would lead to an increase in traffic movements to and from the site. This had implications in terms of the impact on neighbouring residents living along the road and whether it would secure a sustainable form of development. The environmental sustainability objectives set out in national policy had already been compromised by the existing use in a relatively remote, rural area. The intention to store plant and machinery within the building went beyond the scope of the existing permission and would almost certainly improve the efficiency of the appellant’s business leading to greater levels of activity. The benefits of providing improved shelter did not outweigh the harm he had identified.

Inspector Alan Woolnough; Written representations

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