Petrol filling station illumination adds to landscape harm

Proposals for a petrol filling station on the outskirts of a Sussex town failed to find favour with an inspector who found an unacceptable visual impact on the countryside and nearby residents.

The proposed petrol filling station site lay adjacent to the built-up area boundary of a town embedded in AONB countryside, although the site itself was not included within the designation. The inspector observed the site to be at a transitional point when leaving the town and entering open countryside and he considered a petrol filling station here would appear as a noticeably isolated urban intrusion into the open countryside. Even with an additional bund and planting in a second alternative scheme, the inspector decided changes in level across the sloping site meant large parts of the sales building and canopy would still be visible. The effect of lighting against the backdrop of the dark rural area would draw attention to the site and compound the harmful effects on the character of the area, in his opinion. The PFS would also be unduly prominent in the outlook from a house and garden opposite.

An emerging neighbourhood plan had identified a need for an additional petrol filling station, and the appellant had assessed the appeal site as being the most sequentially preferable site in terms of flood risk. The inspector, however, accorded the plan limited weight, observing provision for a PFS had not been examined and found sound. He also attached limited weight to a lack of harm to the setting of a nearby recently listed building, no flood risk issues, no objection from the local highway authority and minor social and economic benefits from reuse of the site and provision of a shop and filling station and from the construction period. He dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: D Board; Hearing

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