Stringent test applied to hospital car park

A council's decision to grant temporary permission for a hospital trust car park in Bedfordshire has been overruled by an inspector who decided that the scheme's failure to maximise the quality of life for local residents did not mean that permanent permission should be withheld.

The original permission required the car park to cease being used by 2011 to enable its appropriateness to be reviewed. The council argued that the site was prominent and the car park did little to enhance public amenity. The appellants pointed out that demolition of buildings on the site and laying it out for parking had cost £180,000. They claimed that it would be a waste of resources to require the car park's removal after five years.

The inspector noted that one of the council's local plan policies required developers to maximise quality of life for residents and visitors. A narrow reading of this did not preclude the grant of planning permission for developments that failed this stringent test, he opined. In his view, it merely excluded them from a presumption in favour of granting permission.

He observed that the site fronted a busy dual carriageway at a point approximately 100m from an elevated part of the M1 and had previously been used to display and park cars associated with a motor trade use. In the light of this, he decided that a permanent car park would not cause significant visual harm.

DCS Number 100-051-147

Inspector George Arrowsmith; Written representations.

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