A recent planning appeal decision has allowed an extension to an existing coach parking area on a commercial site in the Metropolitan Green Belt in west London.
The appellant, Jagraon Property Ltd., had applied to the London Borough of Hounslow Council to construct a new hard-surfaced parking area with an access road. This would add 20 coach spaces to the existing 33 spaces at the site, near Heston Services by the M4 motorway, leading to a better service to the local community.
Planning Permission Granted for Coach Park Extension in West London Green Belt
The Council refused permission for a single reason relating to the impact of inappropriate development on the openness of the Green Belt. A Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State overturned the refusal and granted planning permission for the scheme.
In making the decision, the Inspector recognised the site’s urban context, bounded by a motorway service station, existing coach park, car wash, tyre centre and storage facilities. He considered the extension would not look out of place given the existing commercial uses.
While inappropriate development in the Green Belt is deemed harmful, the Inspector found only limited harm to openness and Green Belt purposes here. This was outweighed by economic, social and environmental benefits – sustaining a local business, providing jobs, and allowing for a more efficient use of the site.
The Inspector concluded that very special circumstances existed to justify the inappropriate development. Planning policies seeking to protect the Green Belt allow for exceptions in such circumstances.
This appeal decision highlights how the planning balance exercise can vary case-by-case. The Inspector reached a different conclusion to a previous Inspector on an appeal relating to a larger extension. However, he made clear that each proposal must be judged independently on its own merits.
The approved scheme will support coach parking demand in a built-up part of London. The operator provides valued services for schools, community groups and organisations in the local area and beyond.
While Green Belt protection remains vital, this appeal indicates where modest development may be permissible when very special circumstances and site specifics allow. The decision reflects the complexities of planning judgment and interpreting policy flexibly
Our expertise in regard to the London planning system was key to us getting this successful result for our client.
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