Editor's pick: Scale of hay barn judged acceptable in green belt

Retrospective permission has been granted to retain a barn at a mixed agricultural and equine enterprise in Surrey, despite council assertions that it did not meet the exceptions to green belt policy outlined in paragraph 89 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

200-002-932 (Image Credit: PROwe Planning Solutions)
200-002-932 (Image Credit: PROwe Planning Solutions)

The site lay in the metropolitan green belt and the Surrey Hills area of outstanding nayrual beauty (AONB). Half of the barn was used for open storage of hay and farm machinery. The other half contained nine stables used for horses that the appellant trained for racing and events. The council asserted that the barn had been built to an unnecessarily high standard and a considerably smaller area was needed for agricultural purposes.

The inspector referred to paragraph 89 of the NPPF, which establishes that new buildings are inappropriate in the green belt unless they fall within prescribed exceptions, including buildings for agriculture or forestry and appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation or cemeteries.

While the council questioned the interpretation to be given to paragraph 89, the inspector read nothing in it to indicate that a building must fit wholly within one exception criterion. Such an approach would introduce a requirement that was not expressly stipulated, she reasoned. She saw no reason why different parts of a building could not fall within two or more separate exceptions criteria.

She concluded that the building was partly used for agriculture and also provided appropriate facilities for outdoor sport and recreation. Despite the barn measuring 18 metres by 24 metres with a ridge height of more than seven metres, she did not believe it was of excessive size or had a material impact on the area's openness. On that basis, she concluded that it was not inappropriate in a green belt and did not materially harm the quality of the AONB.

Inspector: Kathryn Saward; Hearing

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