CASEBOOK: Angling facility ruled out by protected area harm

The deputy prime minister has accepted an inspector's recommendation to refuse planning permission for the construction of three fishing and wildlife lakes together with a toilet block, car park and mobile home in the Cornwall area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

In supporting the scheme at a call-in inquiry, the council noted that the lakes would be well screened from public view at the bottom of a valley and that the proposal would create additional wildlife habitats, thereby contributing to the area's nature conservation interest. It also felt that the project, which was supported by a professionally prepared business plan, would help tackle west Cornwall's long-standing unemployment problems by supporting all-year-round tourism.

The applicants asserted that the proposal would not harm the countryside and would stimulate economic development in an area of deprivation. Angling was an appropriate activity in the countryside, they argued, explaining that for operational reasons it would be necessary for a person to live on the site.

The scheme was opposed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which maintained that the car park, toilet block and mobile home would detract from the AONB. The road network was inadequate to support the users of a facility that was supported by an over-optimistic business plan, the group argued.

The inspector concluded that the type of recreational angling proposed did not require a coastal location and saw no significant demand or need for the facility. Although he acknowledged that the scheme would contribute to the social and economic well-being of the locality, he found that the mobile home conflicted with policies seeking to restrain new houses in the countryside, particularly as special justification had not been demonstrated.

The inspector noted that the construction of the lakes would involve considerable engineering works that would then be permanent features of the landscape. A proposed car park in an elevated position above the lakes would be a prominent feature at odds with the natural qualities of the area, he decided. He held that the impact would be compounded by the conspicuous nature of the mobile home, thereby eroding the nationally important scenic qualities of the countryside.

He concluded that the remote location would encourage travel by car, contrary to national and local planning policies. The deputy prime minister agreed, stating that the limited benefits did not override the very clear objections to the scheme.

DCS No: 30239910; Inspector: Neil Pope; Inquiry.

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