The inspector noted PPG2's advice that new buildings in the green belt are inappropriate except for specific purposes, including essential facilities for outdoor sport and recreation. He acknowledged that there was some recreational element to the aquatic displays and that the ponds required an outdoor location. However, he opined that the property was essentially a retail establishment, drawing support from the Land Use Gazetteer's identification of aquarium and pond supplies shops as class A1 uses.
He accepted that the proposal would be well screened and that but for the green belt designation no other harm would result. However, he found that it would be a new building for the purpose of extending the retail part of the business. It would be inappropriate development that would reduce the openness of the green belt, he decided.
The appellant claimed that he needed more floor space to compete in the market, access to the first-floor fish acclimatisation area was unsatisfactory and further investment in the tropical area was limited by floor area. But the inspector found that none of these factors was special enough to overcome the substantial harm to the green belt.
DCS Number 100-050-795
Inspector David Nicholson; Hearing.