Unauthorised site occupation must cease landscape harm

An enforcement notice issued by a local authority in Surrey which required the removal of a mobile home and restoration of the land to agriculture was upheld with an inspector accepting that it would have a harmful impact on the landscape.

Paragraph 109 of the national planning policy framework (NPPF) stated that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment including valued landscapes. Although the term ‘valued’ was not defined the inspector rejected the appellant’s claim that it should apply to national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. In his opinion it should be applied using its normal usage such as useful and important and small but incremental changes could be caused to local landscapes. The appeal site lay within the countryside on the edge of a settlement in an area of transition between built development and more open countryside beyond. The mobile home was constructed of relatively utilitarian materials with a low pitched roof which related poorly to more traditional houses with steeper pitched roofs. Allowing adequate sight lines to be provided would also be detrimental he held.

Set against this harm was the acknowledged need for more gypsy sites and the personal circumstances of the appellant and his family. They had a two year old daughter and her education and personal well-being was an important consideration in accordance with Collins v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & another [2013]. A stable family home would be provided if he allowed the appeal which lay within a reasonably sustainable location. But the adverse impact on the landscape and amenity of the area was of overriding concern and the appeal was dismissed. A partial award of costs was made in favour of the appellant due to the council’s decision to withdraw its evidence on the need for sites during the course of the inquiry.

Inspector: Graham Dudley; Inquiry

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