IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT
THE QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
(MR JUSTICE KEITH)
B e f o r e :
LADY JUSTICE ARDEN
LORD JUSTICE KEENE
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR P BROWN (instructed by Treasury Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the Respondent
Crown Copyright ©
"3.1 The general policies controlling development in the countryside apply with equal force in green belts but there is, in addition, a general presumption against inappropriate development within them. Such development should not be approved, except in very special circumstances ...
"3.2 Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the green belt. It is for the applicant to show why permission should be granted. Very special circumstances to justify inappropriate development will not exist unless the harm by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations. In view of the presumption against inappropriate development, the Secretary of State will attach substantial weight to the harm to the green belt when considering any planning application or appeal concerning such development."
"The construction of new buildings inside a green belt is inappropriate unless it is for the following purposes ..."
"Essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation, for cemeteries, and for other uses of land which preserve the openness of the green belt and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it (see paragraph 3.5 below)."
"Essential facilities (see second indent of paragraph 3.4) should be genuinely required for uses of land which preserve the openness of the green belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it. Possible examples of such facilities include small changing rooms or unobtrusive spectator accommodation for outdoor sport, or small stables for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation."
"Firstly, whether the proposal amounts to inappropriate development in the green belt, and if so, whether there are any very special circumstances sufficient to overcome the presumption against such development. Secondly, the effect of the proposed development on planning policies intended to preserve local sport and recreational facilities."
He dealt with the two main issues in that order.
"11. The appellant reasoned that as the building would have a smaller footprint and mass than the existing building and the crematorium would not take up any above ground space, it would therefore not physically harm the green belt or the purposes of the green belt. The building could also be regarded as being essential for the use of the site as a cemetery as permitted by Planning Policy Guidance: Greenbelts (PPG2). And its size and that of the car parks etc, would be entirely dictated by the maximum anticipated congregation size, which could equally be for a burial as for a cremation. However, whilst cemeteries are appropriate development in the green belt, crematoria are not. Inappropriate development is by definition harmful to the green belt and contrary to policies to protect it unless very special circumstances exist.
"12. Moreover, the proposed development needs to be considered as a whole. It was accepted that 72% of all deaths involve a cremation-based funeral, and that the viability of the proposal was dependent upon the provision of a crematorium. I also note that, whilst in the appeal referred to by the appellant, my colleague Inspector allowed the appeal to approve the details of a chapel for a cemetery in the green belt on a site at Halstead (APP/G2245/A/98/293974 and 293981), the Secretary of State earlier dismissed an appeal for a crematorium and chapel on the same site (APP/G2245/A/94/237563-4) on the grounds that it was inappropriate. For the above reasons I conclude that this proposal would also be inappropriate development.
"13. The number of cremators in the illustrated plan were higher than, and the number of chapels the same as, that of Eltham, the busiest of the nearby crematoria with a peak capacity of 150 cremations a week and a funeral every 15 minutes when operating at this level. It seems to me therefore that there was the potential for a significant increase in day-to-day activity on this site as a result of the comings and goings of funeral processions and visitors to the cemetery and Garden of Remembrance. And that this would be much greater than the occasional disruption the current use of the appeal site for boot fairs caused. In addition, a new access road needed to be constructed, together with a walled Garden of Remembrance and a chimney stack for the crematorium as well as a substantial landscaping scheme. In my view, cumulatively, these would cause a reduction in the openness of the site and encroachment into the countryside. Nor would this be offset by the restoration of the Estate or improved opportunities for public access. I consider the development would therefore be injurious to the green belt."
"... none of the matters raised in support of this proposed development either individually or cumulatively amount to very special circumstances sufficient to overcome the presumption against inappropriate development in the green belt set out in national and local planning policies."
"... Decision letters must be read in a straightforward manner, recognising that they are addressed to parties well aware of the issues involved and the arguments advanced."
"... a substantial proportion of the proposed crematorium building can be regarded as being appropriate development within the scope of the advice in PPG2."
That clearly implies that a proportion of the proposed building would not be appropriate development in those terms.
"Whether there are very special circumstances, including the need for cemetery and crematorium facilities which outweigh the harm by reason of inappropriateness which would be caused to the green belt."