Casebook: Appeal case - Telecommunications - Green belt harm outweighed by need for coverage

An inspector has allowed an appeal against the refusal of an application for the prior approval of the siting and appearance of a 13.7m high telecommunications tower in the Surrey green belt.

The inspector decided that the lack of an alternative site was a very special circumstance that outweighed the presumption against inappropriate green belt development and harm to openness. In the light of advice in paragraph 65 of PPG8 he considered first whether there were any suitable alternative locations outside the green belt. Since the whole area was designated as green belt, he considered that there were no available alternative sites that could meet the identified need for coverage.

He noted that the appellant had examined 14 alternative sites and the council had not disputed the reasons given for rejecting these options.

In his view, the only site that had any merit and did not have ownership constraints was adjacent to a railway. However, his inspection revealed that the site was at a lower ground level, below trees on the side of the railway, which he found supported the appellant's claim that a mast in that location would need to be taller, more substantial and consequently more intrusive.

The inspector concluded that no realistic alternative site had been suggested by any party. He found that all alternative options had been examined and there were no satisfactory alternative sites, no reasonable prospect of sharing existing facilities and no reasonable prospect of utilising existing structures.

DCS No: WR100-045-341; Inspector: Pete Drew; Written representations.

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