The site was outside the edge of a village but was also very close to the urban area of Birmingham. In respect of impact on the green belt, the inspector considered the proposed demolition of existing stables and replacement with caravans, hardstanding and day-room would lead to some loss of openness and a limited adverse impact on the green belt purpose of safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. In terms of character and appearance of the area the inspector identified that there would be some localised harm, but that harm would be limited mainly because of the proximity of major road, rail and airport infrastructure. In terms of accessibility to services, despite the existence of some walking and cycling routes to the nearest settlements and public transport, the inspector opined that most journeys were likely to be undertaken by private vehicle. However, he felt trips to access facilities would not be long and would already be commonplace from occupiers of the adjoining village. Considering matters in the round, he thought the site was suitably located and policy-compliant.
Considering the aspect of need for and provision of traveller sites, whilst the inspector applauded the council’s efforts in this respect, he felt their gypsy and traveller accommodation assessment should have been updated. He felt later evidence pointed to the current need for pitches being moderately higher than anticipated by the earlier GTAA and given that provision on one site was uncertain due to deliverability, there was likely to be a marginal shortfall in supply and there were no alternative pitches currently available.
The inspector concluded that the harm to the green belt and the character and appearance of the area would be clearly outweighed by the site being sustainable, the need and provision factors, the fact that any other additional traveller sites were likely to be in the green belt as well, the lack of alternative sites and the personal circumstances of the appellant. These other considerations, taken together, were sufficient to constitute the very special circumstances necessary to justify a permanent permission. He acknowledged that PPTS made it clear that personal circumstances and unmet need were unlikely to clearly outweigh harm to the green belt and any other harm, so as to establish very special circumstances but opined that in this case unmet need was not a substantial factor, rather the other considerations in favour went beyond the need issue and personal circumstances.
Inspector: Mark Dakeyne; Hearing