Approval secured – exciting visitor facilities for an RSPB wetlands site

planning secured for visitor facilities at wildlife reserve

The RSPB were seeking to enhance visitor experience at one of their sites by offering improved facilities.  Their aim was to erect a café and associated amenities, thus expanding the offer to visitors and helping to future proof the ongoing maintenance of the wider site through effective reinvestment of revenue from the café.

However, the site’s location within flood zones 2 and 3; in the Green Belt; subject to various ecological designations which had to be navigated; and the wider aims of the RSPB which are to provide a haven for wildlife; certainly made for an interesting project and planning challenge. The Green Belt is well known as one of the most restrictive designations within the planning system, given its aims are to prevent urban sprawl and retain openness, under which new build development is difficult to justify. There are however certain exceptions to this, one being the provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor recreation.

Bringing visitor facilities to a sensitive site

Given the constraints on site, our first port of call was to undertake a review of existing buildings to see if any could be repurposed. Identifying early on that this option simply wasn’t viable, it was decided that a modular structure would be best and Plainview worked with PKL to deliver this on site.  PKL designed a modular structure which not only met our client’s requirements, but was also sensitive to the complexities of the site and its wider context.  Meanwhile we made the planning case in support of the proposals, including:

  • evidencing how the proposals met the necessary exception test for development in the green belt;
  • justifying the ancillary nature of the proposals and its siting design and appearance;
  • evidencing why the proposals would have no impact on wider landscape views and, that being modular meant there would be minimal impact on roots and wildlife;
  • proposing effective mitigation measures to ensure tree protection and ecological enhancement;
  • justifying why the principle of development in the chosen location is policy compliant.

Our liaison with the LPA and our robust planning submission meant we were able to successfully secure the principle of development in a countryside location, and navigate issues relating to ecology, flooding, access and parking, sustainability and landscape.

There were no objections raised by the relevant statutory consultees during the determination process and through our effective engagement and negotiation with the LPA we are so pleased to have secured this very necessary planning permission, which will facilitate the ongoing maintenance and support of a vital nature reserve and wetlands area.

We can’t wait to see the café in situ and are delighted that this thoughtfully designed modular structure will bring a comfortable café environment to visitors, provide some financial security for a very worthwhile charity, whilst being sensitive to the various environmental and planning designations on site and its wider countryside context.

About us

We are Plainview Planning – a dynamic, experienced and enthusiastic team of planning consultants.  We seek solutions and are passionate about planning and our role in creating a built environment legacy.  If you need professional, innovative and informed planning support with your development project, then contact our team via, to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.

IMAGE SOURCE: PKL Group Ltd (2021)