The 32-hectare site had been used by Liverpool City Council in the 1960s and 1970s to accommodate household, construction and demolition waste. In the late 1980s, the site was illegally tipped with 185,000m3 of waste. An enforcement notice was served requiring its removal, but it was judged immune from such action.
The appellants proposed to re-engineer the landform to accept 273,400m3 of imported soils and soil-forming materials. After four years, the regraded site would be restored to agriculture and woodland. The company argued that the concept of openness involved an absence of built form and that, since the works involved were engineering in nature, the scheme complied with paragraph 89 of the NPPF.
The inspector referred to the Court of Appeal judgment in Turner v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and East Dorset Council , which confirmed that, in addition to the spatial aspect of openness, visual impact also implicitly forms part of any analysis of the concept of openness.
As the engineering operations were likely to lead to significant changes in parts of the final landform, she reasoned that this would mean the site was less open than at present. Proposed temporary buildings and structures would also diminish the site’s openness both spatially and visually, she found. In her view, the proposal would conflict with paragraph 90 of the NPPF, which seeks to protect the countryside from encroachment.
The inspector also expressed concern that the appellant had not submitted a planning obligation to secure remediation at the end of the tipping period. She found it unclear where the fill material would originate and whether remediation would be secured within a specified period. She took the view that the site, which was used for low-level grazing, was not in any need of significant environmental enhancement.
Inspector: Jennifer Vyse; Written representations