Casebook: Appeal case - Commercial and industrial - Airport parking ruled out in green belt location

Enforcement action directed against car parking at a farm in the green belt near Bristol Airport has been supported after an inspector agreed that it was an inappropriate form of development that harmed the landscape and encouraged car travel.

All four main agricultural buildings at the site and hard surfaces around them were being used to park vehicles for airport customers and for associated vehicle manoeuvring. The site provided space for around 120 vehicles in the buildings and another 180 in the open. The inspector found that the development failed to accord with green belt policy aims to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open.

It therefore conflicted with the purposes of including the site in the green belt, he held. Even if parking were restricted to inside the buildings, he considered that the development would still be inappropriate in the green belt. But he felt that this would be difficult to achieve and virtually impossible to enforce.

The creation of a fenced compound containing densely parked cars was an intrinsically urban, utilitarian feature that represented a highly unsympathetic addition to the landscape, he determined. Even if it were practical to substantially reduce the amount of open parking, he felt that the fenced, hard-surfaced compound would remain an incongruous feature in the landscape.

The inspector also found that the development was contrary to policies seeking to reduce car travel and support greater use of public transport to access the airport. He reasoned that the more attractive off-airport parking was in price, convenience and quality of service, the more it would encourage trips by car.

DCS No: 100039448; Inspector: Paul Taylor; Inquiry.

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