Domesticity Is Relevant to Openness of the Green Belt – High Court Ruling

One of the cherished features of the Green Belt is its openness and that concept is not confined simply to visual amenity. The High Court made that point in scotching plans to convert industrial sheds into two substantial new homes.

The plans would not have involved any extension of the single-storey sheds. The local authority, however, took the view that the conversion would contribute towards urban sprawl and be an inappropriate development in the Green Belt. A government planning inspector subsequently upheld the refusal of planning consent.

The inspector found that the installation of garden fencing, a new bin store, a space for parking and the inevitable paraphernalia associated with residential occupation would have a domesticating effect on the site and harm the openness of the Green Belt. He gave only limited weight to the would-be developer’s arguments that the replacement of an extensive hard-standing with grass and other landscaping would positively improve the character and appearance of the area.

In rejecting the developer’s challenge to that decision, the Court noted that the idea of openness extends beyond the visual impact arising from buildings. In finding the plans inappropriate, the inspector was entitled to take into account the impact on openness that would arise from the accoutrements of domestic living. His conclusions on the evidence were not irrational or otherwise wrong.

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