Rural barn use enforced given environmental impact

A council in east Sussex was successful in persuading an inspector to uphold an enforcement notice preventing the use of a large barn for holding wedding receptions, functions and parties due to the environmental impacts and the harm to the High Weald AONB.

The appellant’s web site advertised the premises as being suitable for up to 200 people with parking for 60 cars and the council stated that it lay within a buffer zone associated with Ashdown Forest which was designated as a special protection area and special area of conservation. It referred to a visit by a police officer to the site in the early hours of a july morning who confirmed that noise from an event could be heard three miles away. The use of lighting including large floodlights increased the impact along with traffic to and from the site.

The inspector was not convinced that the development did not adversely impact on important habitats and accordingly the precautionary principle should be applied. It did not preserve the natural beauty of the AONB nor minimise light pollution. Although the appellant referred to a potential fall-back position in respect of previous consents the inspector placed little weight on this matter concluding in particular that an intensive pig rearing enterprise was unlikely to be established since no farming on the site had occurred for the past 15 years. When coupled with the harm caused by traffic movements the inspector upheld the notice supporting the council’s stance that changes to the barn were required including the removal of various windows and doors and demolishing a patio area and car park.

Inspector: Felix Bourne; Written representations

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