The site comprised two agricultural fields adjoining a woodland and had characteristics consistent with the AONB landscape, the inspector noted. While the site adjoined an existing holiday park, the latter sat within an extensive group of trees and was not conspicuous within the wider AONB. Overall, the area had a strong rural quality, characterised by rolling farmland. The proposed lodges would appear as incongruous features and would introduce a discordant element along with encouraging human activity and related paraphernalia. In addition, given the number and size of the lodges they would comprise major development in the context of paragraph 172 of the NPPF.
Additional planting, in the inspector's opinion, would fail to give rise to any appreciable mitigation of the landscape and visual effects. Moreover, the site lay within an area where the AONB management strategy sought to protect ‘dark skies’ from unnecessary illumination. The scheme would erode this characteristic, diminishing the sense of tranquillity and remoteness. Nor could the lighting be adequately mitigated and monitored by the council, he deduced.
Having regard to the requirements of the NPPF, the appellant had not substantiated the claim that exceptional circumstances existed to justify the scheme given the great weight which was attached to protecting the AONB. While it would support expansion of the existing holiday park creating employment and supporting the rural economy these matters were insufficient to override the landscape and visual harm.
Inspector: David Spencer; Written representations