This scheme was promoted on the basis that it fulfilled one of the exceptions for development in the green belt listed in paragraph 145g of the NPPF allowing for new buildings that constitute redevelopment of previously developed land. But as the inspector noted, no new buildings were proposed in the scheme, merely a change of use of the land, and on this basis, she held paragraph 145g could not apply. However, the inspector referred to paragraph 146e of the NPPF which did relate to changes of use of land in the green belt being acceptable where there was no loss of openness. In considering this aspect, the inspector noted the current site was generally open in character save for a single commercial building and hardstanding. The council evidenced through aerial photos that few vehicles had been parked at the site since 2002. Based on this evidence, the inspector held that the introduction 156 car parking spaces and potential lighting for the general public to access the nearby airport or exhibition centre would have an obvious harmful physical and visual impact on the openness of the site and was therefore inappropriate development in the green belt. In weighing the green belt harm with the other harms she identified, the inspector held any perceived economic benefits of the scheme over and above the existing use were insufficient to justify the proposal.
Inspector: Helen O’Connor; Written representations