Ready for takeoff

The runway expansion contest between Heathrow and Gatwick pales into insignificance beside what a Cambridgeshire planning authority has been dealing with recently. An inspector has quashed an enforcement notice which required the use of a garden shed at a house as a flight simulator facility to cease, deciding that no material change of use had occurred (DCS Number 200-005-093).

The appellant had a keen interest in aviation, the inspector recorded, and had constructed a flight simulator based on the cockpit of a Boeing 737 within the shed. An adjoining room in the shed served as a workshop and also housed the associated computers. The shed also contained a small reception area with seating and a kitchenette. On the wall was a TV monitor on which the operation of the flight simulator could be viewed.

The appellant stated that he built and originally used the simulator for his own personal hobby purposes but extended the use to friends and family. He subsequently developed a website on which a range of flight simulator experiences were advertised commercially. The website indicated that the facility was open seven days a week from 09:00 to 19:00 and there were links to social media.

The inspector was of the view that the presence of a flight simulator in a garden shed is not a usual activity in a residential area. However, he judged that its use did not appear to have been at a level which had altered the residential character of the planning unit to a significant degree. He found that its use had minimal visual impact, its noise impact was at a low level when in operation, and the additional pedestrian and vehicular movements appeared to have little impact on the surroundings.

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The following DCP chapter is relevant: 12.838

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