Bottling plant rejected on landscape and amenity

Harm to an AONB and neighbours' amenity outweighs the economic benefits of a proposed water bottling plant at a former plant nursery on the edge of a Kent village, an inspector has decided.

The scheme comprised redevelopment of an unkempt nursery site containing a number of unobtrusive buildings and structures with a partly two-storey building of around 1,800 square metres, along with new internal access, parking and service areas. The appellant pointed to the use of landscaping to screen the development in views from the road frontage and the context provided by large agricultural buildings on a nearby farm in other views.

The inspector agreed with the council that a dense planting screen would not be appropriate and would itself have an unacceptable effect, while more natural planting would not screen out views of the bulky building. He also rejected any comparison with farm buildings necessary for stewardship of the surrounding landscape, concluding that the scale and form of the proposed development would not harmonise with the rural character of its surroundings or conserve the AONB landscape.

Although it had no bearing on his finding of harm to the AONB, the inspector deemed the proposals to be a major development for the purposes of paragraph 172 of the NPPF. He also found that the proximity of the drive, combined with vehicle movements, other activity and lighting installations, would disturb neighbouring residents. The plant’s visual impact on the outlook from some properties would also be unacceptable, he held.

Inspector: Tim Wood; Hearing

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