The appeal site lay within the park’s defined development envelope and the inspector agreed the proposal would not lead to a major increase in its developed portion. In his view, it would have no greater impact on openness and would not compromise the purposes of the green belt designation.
The council, relying on Newsmith Stainless Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment Transport and the Regions , asserted that vehicular movements were capable of being a material consideration in an assessment of impact on openness. In order to determine whether traffic associated with proposal would make the scheme inappropriate in the green belt, the inspector assessed the nature and scale of these impacts.
He had little doubt that at peak times, vehicles queuing on the local road network delayed local residents’ journeys. While the council claimed that it was inevitable that the haunted house would generate additional visitors, he noted that no quantification of the scale of the extra traffic flows had been provided.
Based on the additional floor area, the appellants’ analysis estimated that at peak periods the development would lead to between five and 13 more vehicle movements per hour in one direction on the approach road and between six and 16 in the other. This would not give rise to any harm to the green belt by virtue of inappropriateness or undermine highway safety, the inspector held.
In his judgement, the council’s case was unsupported by objective evidence. While the impact of traffic on the green belt was a material consideration, he held that it was a matter of planning judgement. He concluded that absence of any empirical evidence on additional trips generated meant the council was unable to substantiate material harm, leading to an unnecessary appeal and justifying a full award of costs.
Inspector: Robert Parker; Inquiry