DC Casebook: Community facilities - Building justified at woodland site

An inspector has decided that a building to support forestry and timber production with ancillary educational and recreational facilities in the Cheshire countryside is justified by the enterprise and government policy to encourage interest in woodland development.

Some 30,000 trees had been planted on five plots separated by rides and surrounded by a walk. Four of the plots were to be used as commercial woodland and the fifth was a commemorative copse for the Scout centenary celebrations in 2007. The operator proposed a building intended primarily for forestry purposes but also containing educational and recreational facilities.

The inspector held that within ten years the building would be sufficiently well screened by tree growth to be unnoticeable in the landscape. The council acknowledged that a building might be necessary to enable the development of the business, helping rural economic development in line with PPS7. However, it feared that the non-essential facilities would result in a building of far greater scale than necessary.

The inspector opined that ancillary activities would occupy only a small proportion of the building and would not significantly increase its visual impact. He also gave considerable weight to the appellant's argument that the educational and recreational benefits, which would be in accordance with DEFRA's strategy for England's trees, woods and forests, would outweigh the limited additional visual impact.

DCS Number 100-058-395

Inspector Christopher Thomas; Hearing.

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