Casebook: Appeal cases - Agricultural Development. Sterilisation of minerals halts farm bungalow

The redevelopment of a barn to create a bungalow at a farm in the Surrey green belt has been rejected because it was not justified by agricultural need and would sterilise deposits of sand and fuller's earth.

The 16ha holding was used for tending sheep. The appellants had reached retirement age and required labour to work on the holding. They submitted that there was a need for a worker to be on hand to deal with emergencies and at lambing time. The inspector acknowledged that the appellants were unable to carry out all the work on the holding.

However, he referred to advice in PPS7 that the assessment of an essential need depends on the needs of the enterprise concerned and not on the personal circumstances of the individuals involved. He found no functional need for a permanent dwelling. Even if a functional need could be established, he added, there was no evidence that the proposal would satisfy the financial test. He held that the proposal was inappropriate development in the green belt.

He noted that the dwelling would have a significantly greater footprint than the existing structure. He therefore found that the proposal would harm the green belt by reducing its openness. He considered that the dwelling would harm the open feel of the countryside. This would not be outweighed by the likelihood of progressive dereliction of the barn, he considered.

The inspector observed that extensive reserves of building sand lay beneath the site and that the area was known to contain reserves of fuller's earth.

He reasoned that any future exploitation of these mineral resources would necessitate a buffer zone in the interests of the residential amenity of the dwelling's occupiers and this could have a significant effect on mineral extraction.

The principle that development should not sterilise mineral resources was established in the development plan, he noted. He acknowledged that the extent to which this might apply in the appeal case might not be substantial compared to deposits in the area, but considered that the cumulative effects of a decision that undermined policy to protect mineral resources could be significant.

DCS No: 100039295; Inspector: John Woolcock; Hearing.

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