The planning inspector allowed the appeal for the proposed development, which includes the demolition of a stable building and tack room to make way for a twin unit mobile home. The inspector considered whether the development would be inappropriate in the Green Belt, which is subject to certain exceptions outlined in paragraphs 149 and 150 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Paragraph 150(e) allows for material changes in the use of land, such as for outdoor sport or recreation, or for cemeteries and burial grounds, provided they preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with its purposes. The inspector found that there was no clear evidence to exclude the change of use of land for a caravan site from consideration under this paragraph.
The proposal would result in an overall reduction in floorspace and volume of development on the site, leading to an increase in the openness of the site. The inspector concluded that the proposal would preserve the openness of the Green Belt in both spatial and visual terms, meeting the requirements of paragraph 150 of the NPPF.
The Green Belt serves five purposes, including preventing the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas, safeguarding the countryside from encroachment, and preserving the setting and special character of historic towns. The inspector found that the proposal would not lead to an increase in physical presence of development on the site or beyond it, and therefore would not conflict with any of the Green Belt purposes in the NPPF.
The proposal would meet the requirements of Policy DM16 of the Core Strategy, which addresses the provision of Gypsy and Traveller pitches. The inspector also considered the level of unmet need for Gypsy pitches in the Borough, which has increased substantially since the previous appeal decision. The inspector attributed substantial weight to the best interests of the children and the failure of policy progress to assist with delivering pitches.
Although the existing mobile home on the site is the result of intentional unauthorised development, the inspector found that the proposal would outweigh this harm. The previous appeal decision is relevant but there are material differences with the considerations before the inspector.
Overall, the inspector found that the benefits of the proposed development would outweigh any harm, and therefore allowed the appeal.