DC Casebook: Commercial and Industrial - Caravan office rejected at wildlife centre

The siting of a mobile home at a bird of prey centre in Kent has been held to conflict with green belt policy after an inspector questioned whether it is really intended for commercial use.

The appellant sought permission for the mobile home to be used as a security office. The inspector found that it had clearly been designed for human accommodation since it contained a bed, a bathroom and a kitchen including a washing machine. He saw no evidence of an office use. The council had issued an enforcement notice in respect of an alleged residential use of the structure, he noted.

Despite these factors, he decided that the appeal should be determined on the basis that the mobile home would be used as an office, as claimed by the appellant. Material changes of use in the green belt are inappropriate unless they maintain the openness of the area, he reasoned. The mobile home had a volume that adversely affected the open nature of the locality, he decided.

In his view, the bird of prey centre did not comprise a facility providing outdoor sport and recreation and so the provision of an office to serve the business did not qualify as an essential facility under green belt policy. The structure could be observed from a wide area of countryside and the degree of visual encroachment was objectionable, he found.

He expressed confusion as to the appellant's intentions. The submitted information suggested a wish to house a manager to ensure the birds' welfare and deter thieves. This would be tantamount to a residential use, he found. Offices at the centre included a toilet and kitchen that could be used by a guard, he opined. He decided that even a temporary consent would be unjustified.

Inspector: Robert Mellor; Written representations


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