Green Belt appeal decisions
This includes offices, industrial premises, factories, schools, children’s day nurseries, hospitals, care homes and similar
Updated 11 May 2007, this page includes various recent decisions on appeals against refusal of planning consent. Summarises of appeal decisions arising from refusal of planning consent are available at www.Planning Reource.co,uk/dcs, with a copy of the decision letter also available for a fee.
Non-inert waste landfill approved at Gloucs
GB. The operational landfill site was
constrained by areas that could not be land filled due to pipe works causing
troughs. The pipes would be diverted to
the edge of the site allowing the import of 500,000 m2 of waste to fill the
voids. The permitted height of the
landfill would increase by 2m to ensure an acceptably shallow profile. The removal of troughs in this floodplain
created a discontinuity of the area’s character, but lead to significant
benefits to integrating it with the surrounding landscape. These very special circumstances justified
Car boot site refused in
Care home refused in Bucks GB. The existing care home did not
meet government guidelines for room size and were few were en-suite, and had a
poor layout and recreational area. It
was unlikely to be graded excellent and could be forced to close. Alternatives
schemes were submitted to demolish and build either a 68 or 51 bedroom home,
both designs being 2 storey with rooms in the roof space and basement. The Inspector agreed that changes to the
existing building would reduce the number of residents affecting staffing and
viability, but these had limited weight.
Although there was an increasing need for care places they did not have
to be provided in the green belt.
Waste tipping at former opencast coal site refused at
Nursing & residential care home extension refused in
Bucks GB. The wing would accommodate 40
people aged 18 to 64 with physical disabilities. It was argued there was a clear need for the
additional facilities and a free-standing unit was not economically
viable. It would release extra beds in
the main building for frail elderly and those with dementia. The Inspector decided it would reduce the
openness requiring very special circumstances.
There were no local or national targets for specialist care and no
details had been provided of local numbers needing this care. The assessment of alternative locations had
not been sufficienlty thorough.
Medical health facility allowed in Lancs GB. A former nurses training centre
was allowed to have a change of use and extension. It would secure the long-term use of the
building which was under-used and neglected in appearance. Very special circumstances were a deficiency
in existing facilities and it was sustainable due to good local public
transport. It would only add 7% to
floorspace, with an enlarged car park.
Manufacturing allowed in Bucks GB agricultural
building. Manufacturing steel
products in this building did not harm highway safety according to the
Inspector. A former pig farm had been
divided into 3 areas. This workshop was
used 4 days a week with 2 operatives.
The council was concerned about the poor quality access along a narrow
unlit road and issued an enforcement order.
The Inspector decided the use did not conflict with GB policies and
there had previously been heavy traffic on this lane when it was a farm. Permission was granted personal to the
appellant. And his company to provide some control over the activity.
Brickworks development allowed in
GB garden centre refused. The site was well
served by various means of transport and this development would reduce the car
park, consistent with
Concrete recycling facility refused in Warwicks GB. It was inappropriate and undermined the
openness. In 1993 an appeal was
dismissed for a haulage and plant depot, and there was no permission for a
commercial use. The existing concrete
crushing and screening plant was built with bunds which all harmed the visual
amenity. The recycling benefit carried
little weight since it should normally
be sited close to waste processing or industrial facilities to be compatible
with other land uses.
NE hospital redevelopment refused in Gateshead GB. The 60ha hospital closed in the mid 1990s, originating in the early 1900s.50% was earmarked for mixed employment and subsidised housing, with a planning brief setting out the criteria. The development would convert buildings into 66 dwellings and 112 new dwellings, generating cross-subsidy for employment and restoring the historic gardens. The SoS decided it would add to the already healthy supply of housing in the area but this was not in itself reason for refusal. However it would extend beyond the boundary of the allocated site into a wholly open area of GB. It would be inappropriate under PPG2 with no very special circumstances. DCS 100042429 . 16.6.
17m replacement chimney allowed at W Mids GB farm. Despite the genuine
fears and distrust expressed by 100s of local objectors, the chimney was
allowed. It would replace a 15m high
chimney at a thermal oxidiser used to render animal by-products into animal
feed. It complied with
Animal sanctuary approved in
Replacement epilepsy centre and housing refused
in Bucks GB. The National Epilepsy
Centre wanted a replacement centre, 218 houses, a private nursing home and
sheltered flats. The DPM agreed that
affordable housing and key-worker housing would be a planning benefit there was
no case to prove this was the only way to provide it. Housing in the area already exceeded the
District Plan figures. The 31% increase
in footprint was significant, affecting openness. Little consideration had been given to
alternatives such as refurbishment or a longer timescale which might be less
harmful to the GB.
Business park extension refused in York GB. The addition of
office and research floor space onto an 11ha site was proposed because of a
claimed shortage of such space in the area and it would maintain the
city’s status as a premier regional employment centre. The site had been identified in the draft
local plan for exclusion from the GB for employment. The DPM agreed with the Inspector that the draft
plan had not been subject to public consultation and the council was not
progressing towards adoption. Although there was a case for this type of
development, alternative sites had not been explored.
Special needs school allowed in
Office extension approved in Warwicks
GB. The 13m2 extension
with a volume of 33m3 would contain a store, kitchen and staff toilet. It would be a 40 -50% increase in footprint
but the mono-pitched roof made it subordinate to the main office building
making it appropriate in the GB.
Waste food processing plant approved in
Bucks research centre expansion refused. In the Chilterns AONB, the Institute of Cancer Research HQ
since the 1940s was given permission in 1994 for partial replacement,
refurbishment and extension. In 1996 another extension was approved. This appeal related to a further 130 sq.m
extension for an auditorium, enhanced kitchen and restaurant, 30-room lodge and
car parking. Noting the shortage of
suitable hotel accommodation locally and need for research, the inspector also
accepted the benefits to local economy.
He concluded that on-site provision by a lodge was not essential and
would harm the GB and AONB, so the whole scheme had to be rejected.
Epilepsy centre revamp refused in
Crane hire job creation no justification in
Berks GB. The proposal was to
convert a scrap yard to include a building to serve an existing crane hire
business and 12 units for light industry, storage and distribution. The removal of the scrap business did not
outweigh the harm to the openness, neither did the additional employment
Canal boat workshop allowed in Staffs GB. The appellant had a
young people’s care home adjacent to the site of the workshop for
repairing and building canal boats. He
claimed the work would help residents overcome emotional difficulties, and was
a tailor-made vocational training place for disadvantaged and unstable
people. The inspector agreed it was a
unique opportunity to help these people, the boatyard and local economy, making
a very special circumstance.
Change of use of former
station yard in
Surrey Hills GB site unsuitable for wedding
receptions. This occasional use
in a grade 11 listed barn in an AONB was inappropriate and harmful. Up to 12 events were proposed between April
and October each year. A toilet block
would be built and an adjoining field used for car parking. The Inspector ruled that the toilet block,
although of modest size, would permanently reduce openness as would the car
movements. This commercial use of the
barn would generate a considerable number of people as well as the support
vehicles for catering etc. harming the
character of the area.
Medical centre approved in Staffs GB. A centre 3 times the
existing centre was needed. The issue
was whether the proposed former cattle market site was the most
appropriate. An extensive search failed
to find any other that was more affordable, immediately available and close to
the village centre.
W Mids GB industrial unit refused. No very special circumstances were offered to justify building industrial units and an office in a single storey building at a former printworks. Agreeing that it would not materially affect the openness, he doubted if there would be any economic benefits to the area since locals would not be guaranteed jobs. This would create complex work journeys more akin to a large metropolitan area. The building would not reflect the character of the conservation area. DCS 43840804. Jan 2005.
Car wash is material change of use. Not in GB but a Leeds car wash was so ruled and the EO upheld. Car cleaning was an industrial process or business use, and it was not covered by the authorised use as a filling station. DCS 31045054. Nov 2004.
Cheshire GB showroom refused. It was inappropriate to demolish a petrol station and replace it with a car showroom. Although of a similar height it was much larger, be much bulkier and undermine the openness. DCS 34172621 Nov 2004.
OPP for West Mids GB church renewed. Outline planning permission was granted in 1998 and the site allocated in the recently adopted local plan. The council was concerned that the proposal did not involve building a new parish church and might not serve the needs of the immediate area. The Diocese of B’ham agreed and did not wish to build a church there for pastoral reasons, favouring another location. The Inspector ruled that these points should have been raised during the development plan process so there was now no basis for refusal, and awarded costs against the council. DCS 32653979 Oct 2004.
Security dogs at Essex GB stables refused. Four trained and excitable dogs had been kept at the stables for three years. The Inspector found that the dog noise was intermittent but was sufficiently regular throughout the day, and traffic movements of their handlers were more than for a normal domestic use. There was a need for working dogs with specialist skills, such as these, and there were difficulties of keeping them at normal kennels. These could amount to sufficient very special circumstances had the harm to neighbours living conditions outweighed the benefits of the business. DCS 38834029 Oct 2004.
Cheshire GB warehouse refused. The application was
for three warehouses and distribution units on part of a former airfield next
to the M56 in Cheshire. The DPM agreed
with the Inspector’s recommendation that there was no need for this
development in the GB. The site has been
in the GB since 1982 but the unadopted local plan and emerging unitary
development plan (UDP) proposes it as a site for employment purposes. The Inspector decided the proposal had to be
viewed against the existing plan so very special circumstances had to be
demonstrated. The benefits shown,
including employment, did not override the adverse impact on the openness of
Offices refused at
Staffs GB airport can build more offices. At Wolverhampton
Business Airport, the extension and refurbishment of offices was supported by
the District Plan which encouraged expansion.
The Inspector noted that permission had been granted in recent years for
more hangars so it would be inconsistent to refuse extra offices for the larger
business activity. This was a very
Surrey GB church approved. The WW2 cold store on the site had been demolished, and two planning permissions for employment development had been partially implemented. They would be finished off if the church did not get approval. The Inspector decided the church and car park would have a materially less impact on the openness. Although it was not very accessible to non-car users the same applied to the office use. The church would generate less traffic and no alternative sites had been found the need for this use and the draw-backs to existing permissions created very special circumstances. DCS 42219529. August 2004.
NE London GB hydrogen fuel station approved. Very special circumstances warranted it being the country’s first such refuelling facility. It will be used to refuel hydrogen cells powering buses, and is next to a petrol filling station. It was vitally important in supporting alternatives to petrol and refusal would undermine the government’s support for this European strategy. The site had been selected after an extensive search. DCS 40027006. August 2004.
Cambridge GB animal research lab permitted. The High Court rejected a challenge from animal rights campaigners against approval of this facility. Despite advice against it, the DPM approved this Cambridge University facility since it would be of national importance and in line with government policy. If refused, scientists may be lost to the university and the country as a whole. The activists argued that no limit had been put on the type of centre proposed which was perverse since the very special circumstance only applied to animal research and not any research. Other arguments were that they had been deprived of a fair hearing claiming the decision had been predetermined by the DPM, and science minister’s public statements interfered with the inquiry process. The judge rejected these claims. National Anti-vivisection Society and another v First Sos. July 2004. ref CO/6981/2003 (Footnote – The university does not intend to proceed due in part to the possible risk of attacks from those opposing it.)
Surrey GB waste recycling facility refused. The site consisted of settlement lagoons for treating biodegradable waste plus an area of hardstanding, an intake tank, walkway and control equipment. It involved building bungs, a mobile processing plant, a weighbridge and site office. The Inspector decided the use would have little impact on the GB when viewed from the surrounding countryside, but the structures and equipment would undermine the openness, and therefore an inappropriate development. The Inspector acknowledged the positive benefits including the reduced need to transfer wastes to landfill sites and meeting the appellant’s business requirements, but these were insufficient to overturn GB policy. DCS 55142047. July 2004.
Herts GB scrapyard supported by Inspector. The increased openness of the countryside was a very special circumstance for up to 4,000m2 on the 3.7ha site. It did conflict with policies seeking to focus housing development within or on the edge of existing urban areas and sites more accessible by different means of transport. However the land used would be half the existing use with the balance landscaped. The enhanced openness and visual amenity of the GB were compelling arguments to outweigh policy conflicts. DCS 36361462. June 2004.
Berks GB data centre allowed near Heathrow. Located within Heathrow’s safety zone, BT will use this centre employing about 40 workers to store confidential and sensitive information. There is extant permission for a hotel on the site which would put far more people at risk from flying operations. The DPM agreed with the Inspector’s view that the substantial building would reduce the openness of the GB, but it was not in open countryside and was close to a large industrial estate and distributor road. Very special circumstances were the building of a hotel if this data centre was refused, and was a less intensive use of the land. Also fewer people would be on the site. DCS 38553350. May 2004.
Kent GB graveyard refused. This reuse of a sports ground was refused being still in active use at weekends and the pavilion used for social functions and events. The proposal was to demolish the pavilion and erect a chapel and crematorium, with a garden of remembrance and 30ha for burials. The Inspector decided it would reduce the openness of the area. No assessment had been made as to whether the sports fields was necessary, nor were replacement facilities proposed. There was some spare cremation and burial facilities at the adjoining local authorities, so there was no need for this facility. Just because there were delays at times was the nature of the business. DCS 29832208. April 2004.
Hospital OK in Tonbridge Wells GB - TW Council approved a hospital but was taken to court by a developer who claimed it had a more suitable site, being next to a leisure centre, and a park-and-ride scheme and would not harm the GB. The judge ruled that the council had concluded that very special circumstances justified the permission and did not have to consider alternative sites. Kilmartin Properties Ltd v TWBC Dec 2003 Ref CO/2506/2003
West Mids care home extension allowed - New standards require 80% of care home rooms to be single occupancy by 2007. The extension would enable a total of 50 beds thereby maintaining viability. The Inspector agreed that the nursing home could not continue to be loss making, making a very special circumstance. The alternative of closing the home would reduce numbers of available places and cause trauma to existing residents if forced to move. The appeal was upheld subject to a limit of 50 beds. DCS 42954029. October 2003.
Community hospital in Edinburgh GB - Scottish Ministers approved this use of a 6.3ha site which departed from the approved Lothian Structure Plan. It was inappropriate development and would erode a narrow gap between two settlements. Howver there was a strong need for this facility and there were no suitable alternative stites, making for a very special circumstance. Miidlothian Council 21 Dec 2001. DCS 29926146
Gloucester GB storage facility refused despite lawful development certificate (LDC) – The site was used as a piggery and pasture land. In early 2001 the Council issued a LDC for two small pieces of land within the site for storage of scaffolding, reclaimed bricks, stone, timber, hard core and tarmac in connection with a builder’s business. An enforcement order was served against the siting of a portable building and storage of building materials. The appellant claimed that the whole site had been used for storage for at least ten years. Aerial photos showed a sharply increased storage between 1995 and 1998, triggering a material change of use. The portable building was 10m x 3m x 3.4m, representing an operational development to which a four-year immunity rule applied. It was not disputed that the building had been put there within the last four years. The Inspector dismissed the appeal except for the building. DCS 32104190. June 2003.
Notts day nursery refused - The proposed use of a GB bungalow as a 25-place day nursery was inappropriate because of the likely increase in activity. This would be additional to the existing 35-place nursery at the site. The enlarged car park would erode the openness. This would meet government requirements for more nursery places and create employment but would have a materially greater impact on the GB than the current use as a dwelling. DCS 29520534. April 2003.
Surrey GB office rejected - 4 Enforcement Orders against a single storey office building were upheld. In two, it was claimed that the building had been completed more than 4 years ago, but the Council produced aerial photos proving otherwise. so the order was not time expired. The Inspector decided that the buiolding ubndermioned the openness of the countryside. The builder failed to give adequate evidence and lost the appeal, with costs awarded against him. DCS 558713327 March 2003
Transport problems stop farm conversion - In the West Midlands GB, it was proposed to convert egg production buildings at two farms into B1 business use. The Inspector rejected the appeal being fundementally unsustainable in transport terms. It was argued that it would reduce out-commuting to Birmingham and other large settlements but the Inspector said this was speculation, pre-supposing where workers would come from. He said car journeys could increase due to a lack of alternative transport, conflicting with para 3.9 of PPG7. Stratford-on-Avon DC 17 Sept 2002 DCS 44975948
Marquee is a building - The appellant said a 6m square marquee, for a commercial car valeting use, was not a building because it could be dismantled within an hour. the Inspector noted Skerrits of Nottingham Ltd v SoS ETR 2000 where it was held that merely because a structure could be readily removed dod not necessarily mean it was not a building. The appeal marquee had been there 13 months & had a permanemt character being secured by bolts and had an electricity supply, so it was a building for which permission was necessary. It caused a loss of openness and was harmful to the GB. The claim that its removal would require cars to be driven to Leigh on Sea for cleaning and valeting was not a very special circumstance. The Inspector upheld the enforcement order for its removal. Brentwood BC 5 June 2002 . DCS 37818739
Business use of listed granary & curtilage stables allowed - The listed granary building, supported on piers, was timber framed & timber clad and the stables were more substantial with masonry construction. No major work was needed for conversion to business use. The Inspector decided that the proposals would preserve the intrinsic character of the buildings, would not harm the openness of the GB, achieve a viable reuse of the buildings, and improvements could be enabled by the income generated by the change of use to business and office use. He allowed the appeals. Waverley BC 31 May 2002. DCS 45898587
Portable building not allowed - A portable office building had been sited within the curtilage of a large chalet bungalow in a narrow section of the GB near Ringwood, Dorset. Two enforcement notices had been served for its removal. The Inspector upheld these orders as not being a permitted development and harmed the openness of the area. The building was about 12m long, 3m wide, and 3m high. A business had been run from the bungalow but was now run from the portable building. The appellant claimed it was a allowed under the General Permitted Development Order under class E of part 1 of schedule 2as connected with the construction of a swimming pool within the curtilage. The Inspector found the pool development had been postponed and was uncertain. The business use was outside Class E and the siting in front of the bungalowfacing the highway was also inconsistent with the GPDO. The building was inappropriate development in the GB. East Dorset DC 8 Feb 2002. DCS 39027349.
Training / conference centre approved in GB - The NASUWT has its national education, conference and admin centre in the West Mids GB. It won permission for new conference facilities and an IT suite. the Inspector noted demolition of some buildings and a doubling of the removed floorspace which would impact on the openness of the GB. However the Government was committed to IT in schools and in modern society. The benefits of improved training facilities for teachers was a very special circumstance. Bromsgrove DC 17 July 2001 - DCS No. 28277621
Business expansion refused - Two new warehouses were refused in a conservation area in the Bristol GB and the Cotswold area of outstanding natural beauty. The appellant said the 2 buildings, each of 322sqm were needed to expand the business and create jobs. He claimed that previous planning approval, allowing the business to become extablished, was a very special circumsance, justifying the expansion. The Inspector noted the country location and the propsoed 62% increase in floor area. The appellant had not tried to relocate elsewhere to a less sensitive, urban, area. The scale and mass would damage the landscape, reduce the openness, and adversly affect the character of the conservation area. S Glocs Council - 17 May 2001. DCS NO. 50849231
Car showroom refused despite existing permission. - A Macclesfield DC site in the Cheshire GB had an established use for a car workshop, petrol station and car sales. Redevelopment was refused after the inspector concluded that the existing permission would not be implemented in full. The existing building had a footprint of 110 sq m. within an overall commercial area of 1,805 sq m. The proposed building had a footprint of 1,210 sq m. within a total commercial area of 5,213 sq.m. The Inspector said this would harm the openness of the GB, introducing a use with an essentially urban character out of keeping with the semi-rural nature of the area.
He found that the extant permission would be only likely to add 400 sqm to the existing building i.e. about half the appeal area. He also thought there were various alternative sites which could be potentially more acceptable. A planning obligation to turn part of the site into a nature conservation area for newts was deemed unnecessary since there were very few newts there!
Coventry business park may be approved - The SoS may approve a proposal by Jaguar Cars & Coventry Council for a business park in the GB, adjacent to Jaguar's engineering centre. It will have offices, research and development, light and general industry, a hotle with leisure and conference facilities, a 300 sqm local store and a creche. The City Council has been unable to identify any suitable brownfield sites and says there is an urgent need to bring forward land for employment of international and national status. The Highways Agency objected since access would be directly onto a trunk road. A local widlife trust objected on nature conservation grounds. Although the Inspector agreed with these objections, the very special circumstances were the serious shortfall of suitable sites for employment locally, given the abnormally high unemployment rates. The SoS asked for further information on local bus routes, and for exploration of an alternative access. Coventry CC 1 Feb 2001 - DCS No. 32568941.
Arts & crafts centre approved - An arts and crafts sales and teacing centre was not seen as harmful to the gren belt or village vitality. 2 enforcement orders to stop a 440 sqm light industrial unit in S Yorks were quashed. The Inspector accepted that this use was appropriate in the GB and would not undermine the vitality of the nearby village. Car parking was in an enclosed yard, so openness was not an issue. The type of goods sold were not traditionally sold in a village shop. The parish council supported the use, adding to the local economy. Rotherham MBC 16 Feb 2001 DCS No. 47669495.
No reversion rights - The owner of a builders yard in the Surrey GB has lost his appeal against its closure. It was a timber yard but ceased activity between 1981 and 1983. The Inspector decided that there was no right of reversion. A time limited permission for a joinery workshop expired in 1990. Elmbridge BC. 7 Feb 2001 DCS no. 40862010.
Extra storey on offices refused - Planning permission had been given for a 3-storey office building on the edge of the Metropolitan GB. A new application for a foutrth floor was refused since it would undermine the public perception of the extent and quality of the GB. the Inspector agreed and dismissed the appeal. L/B Hillingdon 30 Jan 2001. Ref APP/R5510/A/00/105263.
Industrial use of farm buildings refused - The High Court agreed with the Inspector and refused a change of use of farm buildings to industrial use, despite the GB land being adjacent to the M62. There were no special circumstances to justify inappropriate development. It would lead to parking of lorries in the open. The Inspector's report did not mention or take into account the lorries on the motorway and nearby motorway service area, so the appellant claimed that the extra lorries would not alter the visual impact. The judge concluded that the Inspector had reached a reasonable decision based on the information available and the Court was not there to re-conduct a planning appeal. Newsmith Stainless Ltd v DETR 1 Feb 2001 ef CO/3919/19/00
Domestic garage cannot be converted into day nursery in GB - A scheme to convert and extend a domestic garage for use as a children's day nursery and day care centre has bee refused because of its impact on the GB. A 30m extension was inappropriate. There was a risk to highway and pedestrian safety with access via a narrow road. Paragraph 3.8(b) of PPG2 GB guidance referred to extensions to buildings which were already being reused and did not justify an extension as part of a project to reuse the garage. Location - West Wiltshire District Council.
Edinburgh biotech park approved in GB - Scottish Ministers overruled a planning officer's concerns about the environmental impact of this planned park on a 14.6ha site at Gowkley Moss, near Penicuik, Edinburgh. It was close to existing firms and the university etc specialising in biotechnology, creating up to 900 jobs for people living in the deprived former mining area of Midlothian. Ministers ruled that harm to the GB could be mitigated with conditions requiring a development brief and landscaping for the whole site. The national economic benefits outweighed the loss of GB.
Canalside workshops in GB approved - South Staffs DC refused new workshops at a boatyard, saying the buildings would reduce the openness of the green eblt and harm the visual amenity of the surrounding area. The inspector disagreed saying that the simple uncluttered form of the buildings would be an improvement over the existing unsightly temporary structures on the site.