CASEBOOK: Continued workshop use rejected as unsustainable

The retention of a building used as a workshop and material store in the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty has been rejected by an inspector who concluded that it was contrary to sustainable development objectives and did not conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area.

The building was sited in a disused quarry that had a complex planning history. In 1986 temporary permission had been granted for retention of a building used as a material store and private studio space. The permission was renewed in 1991 and 1996, with the council then requiring all buildings on the site to be removed by 2001. The inspector rejected an argument that the building was lawful because the appellant had not applied for a lawful development certificate.

The inspector observed that the building was in an isolated rural location, lying off an unclassified road without the benefit of car parking or bus services. He decided that although the development was of limited scale, it did not represent a sustainable location for activities that did not specifically require a remote or rural location.

While agreeing that the building could barely be seen from public viewpoints and sat within the quarry with minimal visual intrusion, he judged that the appellant's creation of an informal lay-by was intrusive and incongruous.

Since the building and lay-by failed to either conserve or enhance the natural beauty of the area, he ruled that they conflicted with development plan policy.

In applying for costs against the appellant, the council claimed that in an appeal decision last year relating to two other buildings on the site, another inspector had clearly concluded that the location was unsustainable and the developments involved were harmful to the character of the area.

This should have forewarned the appellant that the current appeal had no chance of success, it argued.

The inspector disagreed, concluding that there were material differences between the current proposal and the appeal dealt with last year. The previous appeal had involved the use of buildings for practising t'ai chi and this had raised significantly different car parking, sustainability and impact issues, he pointed out.

DCS No: 422206670; Inspector: Ray Hiscox; Inquiry.

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