The site lay within a general industrial area and had been cleared of buildings pending the implementation of a mixed use scheme granted in 2006. The appellant stated that due to changes in economic circumstances development was unlikely to occur in the approved form and an alternative scheme was being prepared. Permission was subsequently granted in 2010 for the use of part of the site as a long stay car park for a period of 18 months. The council stated that the period had long expired and in any event the scale of the parking was greater than that which had originally been permitted.
In examining the merits of continuing the use an inspector decided that its use as a long stay facility within the city centre would be in direct conflict with national and local policies which sought to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport and reduce the amount of traffic and congestion at peak times. Extending the permission would be likely to encourage other landowners awaiting an upturn in economic activity to make similar applications and this would potentially lead to a steady supply of them over time. Since the appellant claimed that a new redevelopment scheme was required and no application had been submitted there was no certainty that allowing a further 18 month period would secure its redevelopment.
A further concern related to the quality of the car parking spaces. The existing surface was uneven and comprised loose material, predominantly crushed brick and rubble. During his site visit the inspector noted that parts of the surface were under several centimetres of water and it was soft in places. During winter months this was likely to be regularly wet and waterlogged.
Coupled to the site’s large area and lack of lighting this led him to conclude that the personal safety of users was a significant issue which also counted against allowing the appeal.
In respect of the unauthorised demolition of a boundary wall two and half metres high, the appellant’s suggestion that it had become unsightly and unstable was not supported by evidence. The scale of the demolition was extensive and little attempt had been made to secure its retention through shoring it up or even closing the street if, as suggested, it had become dangerous. Its loss as part of the city’s industrial heritage had harmed the character and appearance of the conservation area and the council had been correct in issuing an enforcement notice requiring its reinstatement.
Inspector Keith Turner; Written representations