The appeal decision is useful in that it considers the new Circular 01/2022: Strategic road network and the delivery of sustainable development (“the Circular”), which was published by the Department for Transport at the end of 2022, and now contains specific guidance on HGV parking in response increased demand and a Written Ministerial Statement from Grant Shapps on the matter.
In this case, it was agreed that the proposal would represent major development in the AONB. However, the appellant had argued that there was a pressing national, regional and local need for additional HGV parking and that this need could not be met elsewhere outside of the AONB due to the maximum 20 minute spacing distances specified in the Circular. Accordingly, it was argued that there were exceptional circumstances to satisfy para. 177 of the NPPF and justify this major development in the AONB.
The Inspector accepted that there was an identified need for the development. However, she was not satisfied that the appellant had demonstrated that the need could not be met by developing outside of the AONB, or by meeting the need in some other way.
In reaching this conclusion, the inspector noted that:
i. The Circular and its maximum spacing distances had to be read alongside the NPPF and all other material considerations [DL33];
ii. Existing service stations along the route which did not meet the mandatory signage requirements in the Circular or provide all purpose truckstops could still provide opportunities to take breaks required by driver regulations [DL34];
iii. It was possible that existing service stations that did not currently meet the mandatory requirements for signage specified in the Circular could be upgraded and/or expanded to do so [DL35];
iv. No adequate consideration had been given to whether a two-site solution could be found that would ‘piggy back’ the AONB and therefore provide an alternative means of meeting the need outside the designated area [DL36 and 41]; and
v. It is preferable to locate truckstops near to distribution centres, which chimes with para. 109 of the NPPF and the function and operation of the HGV industry, where tight timeslots require drivers to wait near pick up and drop off locations [DL37-38].
The Inspector also found that the proposal would be an “alien and discordant feature” that would “decimate” the tranquility of the location and have a “significant detrimental impact on the landscape character, tranquillity, and special qualities of the AONB”, which could only be moderated to a limited extent.
Alexander Greaves acted for Cotswold District Council.