DC Casebook: Mixed use development - Employment land loss ruled acceptable

A redevelopment of a former builder's yard to five houses and an office building has been allowed in a Cornish town after an inspector found no harm through loss of employment land.

The inspector agreed that land allocated through the local plan ought to satisfy future demands arising from the town's economic development. However, he noted that PPS4 requires development plans to safeguard employment land from other uses and identify a range of sites to facilitate a variety of economic development, including mixed uses.

A local plan policy outlined three criteria restricting the loss of employment land. These specified that sites should have established use rights, would continue to serve a useful employment function and would not have a materially harmful adverse impact in terms of scale, noise, effluent, fumes or traffic.

The appellant argued that further intensification above the site's low-level function as a builder's yard would be prejudicial to surrounding occupiers and that the restricted access and backland position would be unattractive to future users. The council pointed out that non-retail land for commercial purposes was very limited in the town.

The inspector found that there appeared to be a range of small units available to meet existing demand in the short term. Medium and longer-term requirements would more readily be met, he opined, by the redevelopment of older and larger business estates with better access. Land allocated in the local plan would also present opportunities, he judged.

In his view, the site had disadvantages for future developers and businesses looking for premises. The access was not appropriate for regular use by larger commercial vehicles and the close relationship with homes and concerns over noise, disturbance or odours would act as a disincentive to industrial use. He concluded that the proposal would not conflict with local plan policy and complied with PPS4.

DCS Number 100-069-464

Inspector Michael Robins; Hearing.

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