The site lay in an attractive rural conservation area adjacent to the Oxford Canal and the setting comprised open valley farmland and canal-based leisure uses. The proposal entailed the creation of a 108-berth marina with associated facilities and wooded spinneys, grassland, ponds and wetland.
The inspector considered that the development would be in harmony with the character of the countryside, which already accommodated an element of leisure uses linked to the canal. He also welcomed a management plan for the enhancement and creation of biodiversity features. In his view, the proposal would preserve the conservation area's character and appearance.
In examining whether the site was an appropriate location for a marina, he noted that a local plan policy stated that consent would normally be granted for canal-based recreation facilities provided they were related to existing settlements. He recognised that the site could not be said to be close to any village, since the nearest was 1.5km away.
However, he took account of the Good Practice Guide on Planning for Tourism, which acknowledges that there are situations in which tourism development may be sought at locations where it would be difficult to meet the objective of access by sustainable modes of transport and the choice of site may be determined by functional need. He noted that a marina of the size proposed needed to be located on a straight stretch of canal within reasonable cruising distance from other facilities.
He took the view that there was a clear need for the marina and it would bring financial benefit to the area. The management plan would also have significant benefits, he considered. While the majority of marina users would rely on private cars, he anticipated that they would park for the day or longer. He concluded that the proposal's benefits outweighed the disadvantages of the location.
DCS Number 100-064-361
Inspector Simon Rawle; Hearing