Superstores Q & A DCP Section 13.1

This section is concerned with larger retail developments which we have defined as superstores. Table 3 in PPS6 'Planning for Town Centres' and the Annex to SPPG8 in Scotland, provide a typology of retail development. This section covers the following types: • Superstores: Self-service stores selling mainly food, or food and non-food goods, usually with more than 2,500 square metres trading (net) floorspace, with supporting car parking. Superstores on the whole tend to sell food and convenience goods including drinks, newspapers/magazines and confectionery. However grocery retailers are increasingly diversifying into comparison goods including clothing, shoes, CDs, DVDs, electrical, household and books. • Retail warehouses: Large stores specialising in the sale of household goods (such as carpets, furniture and electrical goods), DIY items and other ranges of goods, catering mainly for car-borne customers. • Retail parks: An agglomeration of at least 3 retail warehouses. • Warehouse clubs: Large businesses specialising in volume sales of reduced priced goods. The operator may limit access to businesses, organisations or classes of individual. • Factory outlet centres: Groups of shops specialising in selling seconds and end-of-line goods at discounted prices. • Regional and Sub-regional: Out-of-centre shopping centres which are generally over shopping centres 50,000 square metres gross retail area, typically comprising a wide variety of comparison goods stores. Food stores (supermarkets) of less than 2,500 sq.m. net are considered at (13.3) and town centre developments in the form of new precincts or malls are discussed at (13.2)

Q & A    13.1/10

Members of my authority have asked whether a planning policy can be introduced to require all applications for retail uses to include the provision of customer/public toilet facilities, independent of the workplace and building regulations. Has such an approach been tested on appeal?

I do not know of a retail case, but in a decision from North Cornwall concerning rural workshops, a condition which required toilet and washing facilities was challenged. An inspector stated that he did not believe that matters of adequate lavatory facilities formed any part of the deliberation of whether premises were suitable for a particular use. He pointed out that legislation was available to the council to ensure that sanitary accommodation was provided where people were employed, and discharged the condition as ultra vires.  For the reason given by this inspector I doubt that any policy as proposed would survive the local plan process.

I am seeking removal of a planning condition imposed on a retail warehouse permission preventing the sale of "white goods". While I am aware that this term normally refers to large electrical appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and cookers, is there any formal definition upon which I can base my case?

It is very important that planning conditions are precise, and particularly so where interpretation is of critical commercial importance. While the term "white goods" is normally used in the retail trade to refer to the items of kitchen based electrical equipment to which you refer, I know of no definition which has been adopted for planning purposes.  Can any reader help?

Would an existing warehouse ancillary to a supermarket need permission for on-line shopping use purposes? Where such a use would be within a proposed building, would it be reasonable to require the submission of a retail impact assessment?

I cannot find a precedent case. In answer to your first query, the starting point is to consider the scale and nature of the new use, and its relationship to the existing retailing activity. If the warehouse is physically attached to the supermarket or falls within the same planning unit and is used for ancillary storage, its use for what you describe as on-line shopping purposes would also be ancillary, providing the goods being assembled and despatched are drawn from the supermarket’s normal stock. This would not, therefore, result in a material change of use. If the use is unrelated to the supermarket, and does not involve visits by the members of the public, its characteristics would appear similar to an independent mail order outlet. In those circumstances, it is likely to be considered a warehouse use within Class B8 that would need permission. But there seems little point in requiring a retail impact assessment for a footloose operation whose market extends beyond a traditional shopping catchment area.

How much weight is given to draft policy/consultation documents in the decision making process, with specific reference to the 'Proposed changes to PPS6 Consultation Document' released in July this year. Have the amended policies in this document had a major bearing on any large retail or supermarket application decisions since its production in July? GL.

Emerging government policy is like emerging local authority policy, an indication of a possible change in direction but to be given limited weight depending how likely it is to come into force. I am not aware of any appeal decisions where an inspector has referred to this consultation document in their decision but maybe a reader can help. JH

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