The appeal site comprised undeveloped land outside a defined settlement boundary. The council stated that it had never formed part of the adjoining business park. However, the inspector noted that the land was enclosed by a slip road providing access to a trunk road and the business park, giving the wider area a mixed rural and commercial character. In his view, street lighting and remodelling of an exit from the main road had changed its character, so that it no longer appeared as part of the open countryside.
Following daytime and night-time site visits, he found that that the petrol station would be seen against the backdrop of the business park, which was also illuminated during the hours of darkness. Street lighting added to the existing visual intrusion, he opined. While the council wished the site to be planted with trees in accordance with a wider masterplan for the area, he noted that its local plan supported developments that secured economic growth and new businesses.
Turning to the need for the facility, the inspector heard that Highways England had confirmed that motorists’ facilities were underprovided on this stretch of the trunk road but was unwilling to sanction signage from it because the facility was designed to meet local needs. The council also claimed that the appeal proposal did not provide the necessary facilities for longer-distance travellers to eat, shop and relax. The inspector decided that, as a minimum, it would support the development of the business park, despite not being defined as a roadside service area.
Inspector: Gareth Wyatt; Hearing