Development Control Casebook - Airport parking case lost on original purpose of car park

Gloucestershire Airport Ltd has had mixed success on two enforcement notices directed against a pair of car parks at its Staverton site in the Gloucestershire green belt. An inspector quashed one notice on the basis that it was invalid but upheld the other after finding that the parking area had not originally been built in connection with operational use of the airport.

The two parking areas had initially been leased to building contractors operating a park-and-ride facility for employees working on the construction of government buildings in Cheltenham. The use subsequently ceased and the company decided to use the area as a car park for customers of the airport.

On the first notice, which alleged a material change to a mixed use involving agriculture and the parking of vehicles, the inspector decided that the whole of the airport formed the planning unit. He concluded that where an enforcement notice alleges a material change of use on only part of the unit, the use described still has to describe the whole unit.

On that basis, he ruled that the notice should have alleged the creation of a mixed use involving an airport, agriculture and the independent parking of vehicles. He found that the notice was fundamentally flawed and had to be quashed, since it could not be corrected without causing injustice to the appellant.

With regard to the second notice, which referred to the operational development involved in the construction of the car parks, the inspector rejected the company's argument that it was permitted under class A, part 18, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995. This permits development on operational land by an airport operator in connection with the provision of services and facilities.

He noted that the operator had failed to consult the local planning authority, thus breaching one of the conditions that must be satisfied under class A. Moreover, he asserted, the land had not been operational land associated with the airport at the time the parking spaces were laid out but had comprised a field used from time to time for grazing cattle.

In respect of the planning merits, no evidence was presented that the car parks were necessary for the efficient operation of the airport. Given the site's green belt location and the absence of very special circumstances, the inspector held that the development was inappropriate and harmful to the openness of the area.

DCS No: 49219996; Inspector: Graham Self; Hearing.

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