The unauthorised development comprised a single-storey extension and a customer parking area. The key issue revolved around whether the facility constituted "local transport infrastructure" for the purposes of paragraph 90 of the NPPF and could therefore be considered an exception in the green belt.
While "local transport infrastructure" is not defined in paragraph 90 or in PPG, the inspector noted that paragraph 31 of the NPPF refers to large-scale "roadside facilities for motorists" as an example of infrastructure deemed necessary to support sustainable development. While acknowledging that the focus of paragraph 31 is on the provision of large-scale facilities, he nonetheless found support in the framework for the view that smaller-scale roadside facilities for motorists can potentially be considered as transport infrastructure.
On this basis, he held that the development would not be inappropriate if it preserved the openness of the green belt and did not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. In his view, however, it did result in loss of openness through its spatial and visual impacts and represented encroachment into the countryside. On this basis, he concluded that it did not constitute an exception under paragraph 90 and was therefore inappropriate development.
While accepting that the development enhanced the facility, the inspector did not feel that the site was so isolated or that there was such a shortage of facilities in the area that motorists’ safety and welfare would be harmed without it. He found no exceptional circumstances to justify the inappropriate development. Upholding the council’s enforcement notice, he allowed six instead of four months for the works to be removed.
Inspector: Thomas Shields; Written representations