Higher court backs green belt bungalow dismissal

The High Court was correct in supporting an appeal decision dismissing plans for a bungalow in the Dorset green belt, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The council had issued lawful development certificates confirming that the site could be used for siting a static caravan and storing 11 lorries. The claimant applied to build a bungalow to replace the caravan and continued to store, repair and sell commercial vehicles on adjoining land.

In the context of the sixth bullet point in paragraph 89 of the NPPF, the inspector decided that the development would have a materially greater impact on the area’s openness. While recognising that the bungalow’s volume would be similar to the caravan and lorries, he found that would have a greater visual impact on openness. The High Court supported his decision to dismiss the appeal.

The Court of Appeal was satisfied that the inspector had addressed his mind to making the necessary comparison and had not applied an improper approach in assessing the impact on openness. The natural meaning of the language used in paragraph 89 required the visual impact to be assessed, it ruled.

While accepting that parts of the High Court judgment indicated errors, including placing excessive weight on previous guidance in PPG2, the appeal judges found that the inspector’s approach could not be faulted. He had undertaken an evaluative assessment that was a matter of planning judgement and not irrational, it concluded. He had been entitled to take into account the level of visual intrusion on green belt openness, it held.

Turner v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Date: 18 May 2016

Ref: [2016] EWCA Civ 466

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