Jumping the gun

18 Oct 2023

A Suffolk council has been called out by an inspector for taking an exceptionally cautious (other descriptions are available) approach to its handling of an application for 23 holiday lodges in the countryside, by opting to treat the proposal as if it were a permanent residential development and not what had been applied for.

This was a clear deviation from the council’s adopted policy of imposing conditions limiting occupancy period to ensure that accommodation remains available for holiday use in countryside locations where permanent residential use would not be permitted. The council sought to justify its stance on the basis that similar occupancy conditions on tourism developments had subsequently been removed, either by the council or on appeal (400-042-512).

Quite rightly the inspector was having none of this speculation, determining the proposal for holiday accommodation on its own merits as applied for, and pointing out it would be for the council to determine any future application to remove said condition. He found no evidence that a condition limiting the occupation of the lodges to holiday accommodation would not accord with the relevant NPPF tests.

In the event, the inspector identified conflict with a policy criterion in respect of wildlife conservation, in the absence of sufficient information to be sure that protected bats would not be harmed by tree removal, and dismissed the appeal anyway.

Holiday lodges falling within the statutory definition of a caravan are discussed at 24.2 and self-catering holiday accommodation in permanent buildings at 9.5. Removal of holiday occupation conditions is discussed at 9.7.