Rushett Stables Appeal 2017: Inspector's report

How the Inspector interpreted "Very Special Circumstances" in the Rushett Stables 2017 appeal

At an appeal in March 2017 Rushett Stables used a number of very special circumstances to justify its planning application, previously rejected by RBK as an inappropriate development for a Green Belt site.
The Inspector’s role is to decide whether the harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, would be clearly outweighed by other considerations, so as to provide the very special circumstances necessary to justify the development.

A summary of that decision

The harm caused

  1. An assessment of the site against National and Local policies concluded “this area of land on the east side of the road appears vulnerable to erosion of the essential characteristic of Green Belt land and two of the purposes of the Green Belt, and even allowing for the limited size of the appeal site within that area of land, residential use has caused significant harm through encroachment”.[1]
  2. Intentional Unauthorised Development. This additional harm should be afforded significant weight in this case.[2]

Do very special circumstances outweigh this harm?

  1. The level of unmet need for gypsy pitches in the Borough – considerable weight.[3]
  2. The Council’s inability to meet the need for gypsy pitches in the Borough – significant weight.[4]
  3. Policy progress and timetable – significant weight.[5]
  4. The personal circumstances of the appellant: the family had previously lived in a house in Claygate, but this was given up on moving onto the appeal site, and the appellant stated that it was not available to move back into. The alternative is stated to be roadside living. The appellant asserts that he has a cultural aversion to living in ‘bricks and mortar’ housing – moderate weight.[6]
  5. The security of the stables site – very little weight.[7]
  6. The best interest of children has been subject to consideration and on the evidence presented only limited weight can be attached to that.[8]

The Inspector’s conclusion demonstrates that very special circumstances afforded two “significants“, a “considerable” and a “moderate” weight are insufficient to outweigh the significant harm caused to the openness of the Green Belt and the significant harm caused by the unauthorised intentional development.
Which begs the question…
Had there been no “unauthorised intentional development” and therefore no significant harm to outweigh, would the Inspector’s conclusions have been any different?
RBK’s inability to provide sufficient gypsy pitches is currently putting our Green Belt under unnecessary extra pressure. The new Local Plan will rectify this situation, however, the solution needs to be a robust one that ensures “the inability to meet the need for gypsy pitches” cannot be used again as a “very special circumstance”.


Download Inspector’s report

[1] paragraph 17
[2] paragraphs 22 – 24
[3] paragraph 27
[4] paragraph 28
[5] paragraph 29
[6] paragraph 32
[7] paragraph 33
[8] paragraph 35

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