CASEBOOK: Appeal Cases; Leisure and entertainment - Landscape objection thwarts golf driving range

An illuminated golf driving range in the Cornwall area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) has been refused permission because it would cause unacceptable harm to the landscape and endanger road users.

The site was on elevated ground on the opposite side of the road from existing golf club buildings, about 900m inland from the coast. The appellant proposed to construct a building providing ten bays for golf driving practice that would be sited on the skyline as seen from a number of local viewpoints.

The inspector held that although the proposed building would be relatively low, its distinctive mono-pitch roof profile surmounted by spotlights and its length of 30m would make it a substantial structure that would be an intrusive feature in the landscape. He considered that the mown grass of the driving range would also change the appearance of the land from agricultural to recreational, with a marked level of human activity extending over the road from the existing recreational facility.

The inspector acknowledged the club's laudable emphasis on helping and training young players and its efforts to encourage a social mix among its members. But he held that these did not amount to a social benefit sufficient to outweigh the presumption against harmful development in the AONB. He considered that any local economic benefit from the facility would be marginal and did not outweigh the unacceptable harm to the AONB.

In respect of highway safety, the inspector considered that while a pedestrian crossing would provide generally satisfactory visibility, the potential for injury to pedestrians from poorly-lit cars at dusk and in conditions of reduced visibility would be increased. He found children crossing the road unaccompanied a further cause for concern, particularly in view of the appellant's emphasis on use of the proposed facility for training young people.

DCS No: 31389646; Inspector: Christopher Gethin; Written representations.

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