Highway safety concerns block commercial uses in countryside

The change of use of three agricultural buildings to office and storage use in open countryside in Essex was refused for harm to highway and pedestrian safety and the appearance and character of the area, despite two of the buildings already having been converted to storage use.

The inspector’s main concern was the appeal site’s location at the corner of two narrow country lanes lacking footpaths and streetlights and the lack of turning space for large vehicles within the confines of the appeal site. The speed limit on both lanes was 40 mph and one moved to 60 mph within only a few metres of the site. The inspector opined the majority of users of the proposed office use at the site were likely to travel by private car and would generate 44 trips per day on top of the existing storage uses at the site which resulted in 29 trips per day already. She felt the use of the existing and proposed accesses to the site would be significantly increased by the proposed change of use and this taken together with the narrow width of the roads and speed of vehicles travelling along them, would result in an increased risk of collisions regardless of the good visibility at the access or the evidence of limited recorded accidents in the area. In addition, she noted the county highways officer’s objections to the proposal. 

There were no relevant drawings as to how one of the agricultural buildings was to be converted to office use. In the inspector’s view it was not suitable in its current form for such a use, being a steel-framed building with corrugated roof, timber cladding and concrete floor with metal sliding door. As there was no demonstration that the change of use to office would not harm the character and appearance of the area, the inspector found conflict with the council’s adopted policies to protect the character of the countryside.

Inspector: R Sabu; Written representations


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