Service firm fails to prove need for rural location

Inadequate justification for building in the countryside has resulted in dismissal of plans for a two-storey office to house a company involved in work at the Sellafield nuclear fuel processing site in Cumbria.

The company provided maintenance and operational services at the plant, with 91 of its 96 staff visiting the site daily. It had been obliged to relocate seven miles from Sellafield for security reasons. It explained that staff numbers had dropped substantially since the move, but that it planned to grow to around 200 employees. Paying for the extra travel time involved would affect its overall viability and efficiency, it argued.

The inspector noted that little information about the company’s business model had been provided and that its existing offices had a dedicated secure IT link with Sellafield. While recognising that a new building would be beneficial for meetings, he did not regard it as essential to the company’s day-to-day business activities. The inspector was not persuaded that alternative site assessments demonstrated that a countryside location was justified by the synergy and linkage benefits of being sited closer to the plant.

Inspector: Mark Caine; Hearing

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