Lack of mechanism to tie lodges to golf course defeats diversification argument

The siting of 26 static caravans, associated bases, decking, access and parking to financially support the running of a golf course in open countryside in Hertfordshire was refused, the inspector finding it amounted to stand-alone residential development rather than rural diversification.

The council had an adopted plan policy restricting development in this rural area beyond the green belt to that for purposes including essential small-scale facilities for outdoor sport and recreation and other small-scale facilities, services or uses of land which met a local need, were appropriate to a rural area and assisted rural diversification. The appellant had argued the proposal was a recreational facility and an employment generating use. The council felt the proposal amounted to residential use and conflicted with the above policy and specifically the supporting text which referred to caravans being considered as normal residential development.

Firstly, the inspector felt the scale of the proposal could not be regarded as small-scale. Secondly, he agreed with the council that a condition restricting the units to holiday accommodation would not be enforceable and, in any event, no planning mechanism was provided to link the units to the operation of the golf course for it to be considered as a rural diversification project. In this latter respect, the inspector concluded that whilst the proposal had the potential to help safeguard the existing 50 or so jobs at the golf course, in the absence of a financial appraisal to relate this expenditure to the losses sustained by the business, or a mechanism to link the capital and/or revenue receipts from the units to the golf course, it was difficult to establish the extent to which the proposal would actually support the long term future of the golf course business and therefore substantiate the claimed benefits. He also found the proposal was not appropriately located being some distance from the nearest day-to-day facilities resulting in unsustainable travel patterns and, finally, would not provide satisfactory living conditions for future occupiers.

An award of costs against the council was refused, the inspector finding they had acted reasonably in determining that insufficient information on surface water drainage had been submitted to consider the proposal properly.

Inspector: Simon Warder: Written representations

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