Out of sight, out of mind

Not so long ago the view of inspectors was generally that the impact on openness in the green belt had little to do with whether or not development could be seen. Any physical structure would necessarily reduce openness, it was reasoned. A recent court case appears to have changed things somewhat radically, however.

In quashing an enforcement notice requiring the removal of a 10m by 10.3m building associated with a microlight airfield in the green belt in Lancashire (DCS Number 400-012-730) an inspector acknowledged that in purely physical terms the building affected the openness of the green belt. He recorded, however, that the Court of Appeal in John Turner v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and East Dorset Council [2016] recognised that the question of visual impact is implicitly part of the concept of openness of the green belt. He observed that the nearest buildings were about 350m distant, and the council made no claim that the appeal building was visible in the landscape from any public vantage points. He noted, in addition, that the High Court in Europa Oil and Gas Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2013] had recognised that the impact of a development on openness was not necessarily related to its size but also to its purpose. The appeal building was fit and appropriate in scale for its purpose, and had no more effect on openness than was necessary, he found. Despite its size, the inspector concluded that the building did not have any visual effect on the openness of the green belt.

John Turner has to be a very significant case. Have its effects not yet become apparent or did the DCP Blog miss the hoopla?

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.2516

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