Manager's dwelling associated with polo club inappropriate in the green belt

Redevelopment of a barn to stables, groom's and manager's accommodation at a polo club in Berkshire was refused as inappropriate development in the green belt, the manager's accommodation element being considered non-essential.

The inspector considered the main issues to be whether the development was appropriate in the green belt, whether it was harmful to openness or adversely impacted on the character and appearance of the area. She addressed the green belt issues first noting that the NPPF allowed for "appropriate facilities for outdoor sport and recreation" in paragraph 89. However, whilst accepting the need for further stabling at the club and the need for the grooms' accommodation, she held the manager's accommodation comprised a significant element of the scheme and given there was already a dwelling in the main complex where a manager could live, she felt this aspect of the scheme was non-essential and rendered the mix of facilities inappropriate overall. To this aspect she afforded substantial harm.

Regarding openness, character and appearance, the inspector held there was limited harm to the green belt from loss of openness as the proposal was to replace an existing barn with much the same footprint. The design of the scheme was in keeping and she concluded there was no harm to the character and appearance of the area.

In looking at the special circumstances, the inspector noted that no additional staff were required as part of the proposal but recent investment at the site had taken place and the scheme would support the local economy through vets, farriers and food suppliers. To this she afforded moderate weight. In the overall planning balance, she concluded the special circumstances did not outweigh the harm to the green belt from inappropriate development.

Inspector: Claire Victory; Hearing

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