Green belt fishery plans impact greater than existing use

A series of inter-connected activities at a fishery in the Surrey green belt was refused due to the impact on the openness and character of the area.

The site extended to 22 ha and contained four lakes which were fished by paying customers. It included various storage buildings and car parking areas. The appellant proposed to demolish several buildings including a boathouse to enable the erection of a dwellinghouse. A significant reduction in commercial fishing operations was also proposed making it a ‘members only’ facility with more limited opening hours. Vehicle movements and customer activity would decrease. The appellant stated that if permission was not granted the fishery business would be intensified, with cheaper ticket prices and more customers attending each day.

In rejecting the council’s claim that the existing use was akin to agricultural in nature and therefore did not involve the use of previously developed land, an inspector accepted that a fishery use did not consist of an agricultural enterprise. The replacement of a boathouse did therefore involve previously developed land to which paragraph 89 of the national planning policy framework applied. The proposed dwelling would be of a completely different shape and style and whilst having a smaller footprint and volume would have a greater internal floor area. Overall, although the dwelling would have no greater impact, the spread of residential development in substitution for existing buildings would encroach into the green belt and was by definition harmful. It would also harm the countryside location and the potential intensification of the fishing use did not provide sufficient reason to allow the appeal.

Inspector: Louise Phillips; Hearing

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