Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Appeal is Dismissed

Appeal Decision

Inquiry held on 6 & 7 January 2009
Site visit made on 7 January 2009
by R J Perrins MA MCMI
The Planning Inspectorate
4/11 Eagle Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6PN
􀀋 0117 372 6372
an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State
for Communities and Local Government
Decision date:
12 February 2009
Appeal Ref: APP/M1595/C/08/2076007
Bentons Farm, Mollands Lane, South Ockenden, Essex RM15 6DB.
• The appeal is made under section 174 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as
amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991.
• The appeal is made by Mr A E Rees against an enforcement notice issued by Thurrock
Borough Council.
• The Council's reference is 08/00023/ENFORCE.
• The notice was issued on 18 April 2008.
• The breach of planning control as alleged in the notice is without the benefit of planning
permission the making of a change of use on the land for:
(1) A depot for an asbestos removal company, office, the parking of vehicles, trailer units,
and storage of other materials associated with the asbestos removal business and the
(2) Open storage of scaffolding, building materials and other materials.
• The requirements of the notice are:
(i) Cease the use of the Land for a depot for an asbestos removal company, office, the
parking of vehicles, trailer units and other material associated with the asbestos
removal business and open storage of scaffolding, building materials.
(ii) Remove from the land all vehicles trailer units, and other materials associated with
the asbestos removal business and scaffolding, building materials and other materials.
• The period for compliance with the requirements is three months.
• The appeal is proceeding on the grounds set out in section 174(2) (a) of the Town and
Country Planning Act 1990 as amended.
Summary of Decision: The appeal is dismissed and the enforcement notice upheld.

Main issue
1. I consider the main issue in this case to be whether the proposal would
constitute inappropriate development within the Green Belt.
Planning Policy
2. I consider the following polices of the Thurrock Borough Local Plan (TBLP) to be
relevant to the case before me; Policy GB1 sets out that permission will not be
given, except in very special circumstances, for the change of use of land or reuse
of existing buildings unless it is for one of five listed purposes; Policy GB11
addresses the re-use and adaptation of buildings in the Green Belt and
requires, amongst other things, that any proposed use be fully contained within
the building and that it is not detrimental to the appearance of the countryside
or amenities of the area. Both policies have been saved by direction of the
Secretary of State under Schedule 8 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase
Act 2004. The advice found in National Planning Policy Guidance 2 (PPG2)
Green Belts is a material consideration.
Appeal Decision APP/M1595/C/08/2076007

Appropriate development
3. The appeal site is situated to the south side of Mollands Lane, to the east are a
block of garages, allotments lie to the west, to the south is agricultural land
and to the north on the opposite side of the Lane are residential properties.
The site has well established boundaries with high walls to the south and east
and fencing and trees lining the other two. From road level there are limited
views into the site. Mollands Lane is predominantly residential although, there
are various businesses included a van-hire company situated at the eastern
end. It is accepted that the previous lawful use of the site was Class D1, a
non-residential institution. That use included a resource centre and day
activity/therapy centre.
4. Within the site there are areas laid to hardstanding and grass with some trees
predominantly on the boundaries. Two single storey buildings are situated near
to the southern boundary, one currently being used as offices and the other
mainly for the storage of materials and equipment in connection with the
asbestos removal company. The listed building, Bentons Farm, is also being
used for storing equipment. At the time of my inspection there were 10
enclosed trailed units, 1 open trailer, 4 transit sized vans and 1 smaller van.
10 cars were parked in front of the building being used as offices, between that
building and the wall to the rear I was able to see a secure open storage area.
5. PPG2 states that inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the
Green Belt and that such development should not be approved except in very
special circumstances. The appellant accepted at the Inquiry that there were
no very special circumstances in this instance. There is agreement between
the parties that the development falls within the definition of inappropriate
development, and that there is a presumption against inappropriate
development in such areas.
6. I accept that the proposed use does not involve the construction of any new
buildings and PPG2 encourages the re-use of existing buildings. However,
PPG2 is explicit and advises that strict control should be exercised over any
associated uses of land surrounding the buildings which might conflict with the
openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it. To that
end the appellant contends that whilst parking is inappropriate development in
the Green Belt, this is only the case where it reduces openness. In this
instance, because of the enclosed nature of the site with its hardstanding and
range of buildings, the effect on openness is very limited.
7. I do not accept that view; the presence of parked vehicles reduces openness
regardless of any existing screening or buildings. The same principle applies to
the storage area between the office and boundary wall. I accept that it is well
screened nevertheless, it reduces openness. The development conflicts with
the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy; to check urban sprawl by keeping
land permanently open. The most important attribute of Green Belts is their
openness and I must find that the development reduces that and as such is
Appeal Decision APP/M1595/C/08/2076007

8. PPG2 provides that permission should not, in any event, be refused for the reuse
of buildings in the Green Belt, if any objections could be overcome by the
imposition of suitable conditions. To that end I was asked to consider various
conditions which would restrict the use of the site and address the objections
9. Firstly, I turn to conditions to restrict the parking of vehicles, trailers and the
open storage of scaffolding and associated materials. I accept that vehicle
parking, deliveries and storage would have been required for the previous
(Class D1) use and that highway safety is not an issue. However, the appellant
confirmed that the current use includes daily unloading and loading of plant,
machinery and scaffolding. In addition, there would be a requirement to store
a minimum of two vans and contamination units in bays near the workshop for
10. In my opinion, the previous D1 use would not be comparable to the vehicle
movements associated with, or the parking and storage required for, the
current use. There is nothing before me to suggest that the previous use
required external storage or parking for commercial vehicles or that delivery of
materials or collection of products was a frequent occurrence.
11. In addition, I have taken into account the evidence of third parties regarding
the general level of traffic associated with the previous use and the use of a
minibus/people carrier for patients. To my mind, that indicates that the need
for parking was limited. Moreover, restricting the car parking and storage
area, to that shown on the drawing submitted by the appellant, would not, in
any event, reduce the harm to the openness of the Green Belt. It would also
not be conducive to the setting of the listed building.
12. I now turn to the hours of operation; I accept and understand the appellant’s
operational requirements in respect of early morning starts (0600 hours). I
also recognise the willingness to restrict work times and to not operate on
Sundays or Bank Holidays. However, I was able to see the range of
equipment currently stored on site and I am in no doubt that loading and offloading
of it would generate a level of noise and disturbance. Given the
number of vehicles and trailers being operated by the business, I am in no
doubt that such disturbance, and the noise it would generate, would have an
unacceptable impact upon the living conditions of those living nearby.
13. I have also considered conditions which would address issues of security
lighting and restrict the use of buildings. I also acknowledge the appellant’s
willingness to accept conditions regarding hazardous materials and
landscaping. However, whilst these may be achievable to address those
issues. Overall, I find, for the reasons given that conditions would not
overcome all of the objections and harm I have identified.
14. In addition, the appellant asked for consideration to be given to granting
planning permission restricted to business use of the site only. In his opinion,
that would overcome the issues regarding development in the Green Belt.
S177(1) (a) of the Act refers to granting permission for the whole or any part
of those matters alleged. However, the jurisdiction to grant planning
permission is limited to the terms of the enforcement notice and there is no
Appeal Decision APP/M1595/C/08/2076007
power to grant planning permission for development different from that alleged
to constitute the breach of planning control. In my opinion granting permission
for office (Class B1 Business) use would be a materially different development
from that alleged. In any event, I am not convinced, from the evidence before
me and the operational requirements of the business, that such permission
would overcome the harm I have identified.
Other matters
15. Understandably, given the history of asbestos problems in the area, there is a
good deal of local concern regarding the risks associated with the use of the
site for an asbestos removal business. I have some sympathy with those
views. However, there is nothing before me to indicate that there would be a
risk associated with the current business. The removal of asbestos is a highly
regularised business, the agencies involved in the licensing and monitoring of
such operators have not expressed any concerns regarding the current
16. In addition I was able to see the well-organised systems and processes in place
during my site visit. There is nothing before me to suggest that any operations
taking place at the site are a risk to local people. It would also seem to me
that the appellant and his workforce, who work on the site, would in any event
be looking toward their own health and safety.
17. I have also taken into account the planning history of the site which includes a
planning application for the change of use of outbuildings from workshop to
store and from workshop and office to B1 office (Ref:07/01309/FUL). I accept
that Council officers recommended that application be given planning
permission. However, the ground (a) appeal before me is substantially
different to that considered by Officers at that time, it addresses the activities
taking place at the time the enforcement notice was served and goes beyond
what was considered under the previous application.
18. Overall I consider that the Green Belt would be harmed by reason of the
proposed development being inappropriate and by a loss of openness.
Moreover, the appellant has not submitted any material considerations
sufficient to outweigh that harm. Very special circumstances justifying a
departure from Green Belt policy do not exist. I therefore conclude that it
would not be acceptable having regard to the strict control over new
development in the Green Belt contained in national and local policies. It
would also be at conflict with the aforementioned policies of the TBLP and the
appeal should fail.
19. I dismiss the appeal and uphold the enforcement notice. I refuse to grant
planning permission on the application deemed to have been made under
section 177(5) of the 1990 Act as amended.
Richard Perrins
Appeal Decision APP/M1595/C/08/2076007

Mr Geraint Jones of Counsel Instructed by Wortley Byers of Brentwood.
He called
Mr Tim Hughes BSc
Senior Partner, Hughes & Associates Chartered
Mr Jeremy Pike of Counsel Instructed by the Head of Legal Services.
He called
Kenneth Smith Dip EP Senior Planning Officer, Chelmsford Borough
Mr Barrie Lawrence 32 Peartree Close, South Ockenden RM15 6DB.
Mr D A Duke 31 Mollands lane, South Ockenden RM15 6DB.
Mr Chris Savil 45 Mayflower Close South Ockenden RM15 6HZ.
1 Proof of Evidence – Mr A E Rees.
2 Appendices to Proof of Evidence – Mr A E Rees
3 Evidence referred to by Ockenden Concerned Residents Action Group.
A Proposed External Commercial Parking & Storage Area (No. HA/01.91/003).
1 Copy of A3 size overhead photograph of Bentons Farm House and
2 to 5 Copy of four A4 sized photographs showing various views of
farmyard and buildings.

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