Safety reasons for golf netting would not overcome green belt harm

Safety netting around the 14th green of a golf course in Hertfordshire was refused for its harm to the openness of the green belt and inappropriateness, the issue of stray balls affecting the safety of a nearby property being considered insufficient as a special consideration outweighing the harm.

The proposal involved the erection of a safety net 12m high and 12m wide to protect the flank and rear walls of an adjoining property and the near part of its back garden from stray golf balls. The netting would be supported by two green painted metal posts to be fitted into brackets already fixed into the ground.

The inspector held the proposed safety net fixed to the ground would be a structure or erection and therefore could reasonably be regarded as a building for planning purposes and could comply with the first part of exception b) of paragraph 145 of the NPPF regarding the provision of appropriate outdoor sporting facilities. However, in respect of the netting affecting openness, the inspector held the structure would be much higher than the neighbouring house and nearby trees and especially when seen against an existing metal fence, would appear conspicuous and not preserve the openness of the green belt. Although the health and safety risks to the property attracted moderate weight in favour of the proposal, the inspector concluded there were other options such as the re-siting of the green which could be investigated to overcome the issues at the golf course and the safety issues were not sufficient to override the harm to the green belt.

Inspector: Rory Macleod; Written representations

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