Business use accepted in principle in rural area

Plans for a barn to house an aquaponics business in Lancashire have been rejected due to potential harm to road safety and the natural environment, despite an inspector's recognition of the case for locating the scheme in a rural area.

Permission was sought for a pole barn measuring  27m by 5.5m on the flat floor of a worked-out quarry in an upland location. Power generated from solar panels on the roof was intended to be sufficient for the building’s use for an aquaponics business, combining rearing fish in tanks with growing herbs and vegetables. Access to the site was via a short length of track branching off a long narrow unadopted road that also served a number of houses and farms.

The strongest argument in favour of the rural location was based on the site’s proximity to an adjoining mill lodge, the inspector found. The appellants proposed that trout produced in the building, as well as being sold for consumption, would be used to stock the lodge, which would then be opened for controlled angling. On balance, he saw a reasonable case for locating the operation outside urban areas.

On road safety, he was concerned that no account had been taken of likely vehicle movements generated by anglers’ use of the lodge. Although the lodge was outside the appeal site, he noted that the intended related use was presented as an essential justification for the business’s location.

He agreed with the council that associated traffic movements needed to be assessed to obtain a complete picture of likely impact on the access road. Given that even a modest number of trips could have a significant impact on the access road, he found it unclear that the proposal would not cause harm to safe shared use by all modes of transport.

He was also concerned about the scheme’s impact on surrounding woodland and found that the ecological implications of increased use of the lodge by anglers were not fully set out. While accepting that the scheme’s merits as a means of sustainable organic food production could in principle justify the proposed location, the scheme as currently framed did not satisfactorily address its highways and environmental effects.

Inspector: Brendan Lyons; Written representations

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