Fibre optic broadband contractor's fails sustainable rural need test

Despite having secured a government contract to install fibre optic broadband across the whole of north-west England an appellant operating a civil engineering and building contractor's yard in Lancashire has failed to secure retrospective permission for the change of use of land and the retention of a storage building, an inspector ruling that it was not appropriate to a rural area.

The appellant stated that the building was used to store high quality and high value materials associated with the laying of fibre optic cables and infrastructure, with four to five members of staff on site at any one time. However, up to 20 agency staff also visited the site, the inspector noted, with access via a single country road in a location remote from the main urban areas. Since the previous use of the site had been stables, its change to a contractor’s depot involving the storage of materials, plant and vehicles with limited access by non-car means of transport meant that it was contrary to the principle of sustainable development. It was materially different in character from a typical farmyard and both the use and the building undermined the rural character of the area.

Inspector: Matthew Birkinshaw; Written representations

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