Inspector backs Yorkshire retail park expansion

A planning inspector has approved the expansion of an out-of-town retail park between Rotherham and Barnsley after concluding that the scheme would not have a 'significant adverse impact' on local town centres.

Rotherham: council concerned by town centre impact (pic courtesy Ben Sutherland via Flickr)
Rotherham: council concerned by town centre impact (pic courtesy Ben Sutherland via Flickr)
Cortonwood Retail Park’s owners, Budenny LLP, had appealed the rejection of the scheme by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council in February 2013.

The application proposed the demolition of an existing retail warehouse building and the construction of 9,177 square metres of Class A1 retail floorspace with associated car parking and landscaping.

The council’s grounds for refusal included that it considered a submitted sequential test assessment had failed to adequately assess all available sequentially preferable sites in Rotherham and Barnsley town centres, contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

It also considered that the scheme would have a "significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of existing town centres within the catchment area including Rotherham, Wombwell and Goldthorpe".

But in an appeal decision letter issued this week, inspector Martin Pike said he disagreed with the council’s decision.

Pike said there are no sites within the scheme’s catchment area which are "suitable, available and viable to accommodate the proposed development".

"There are two potential sites at Barnsley, within the wider catchment preferred by the council, but there are significant doubts that either represents a realistic alternative. All other opportunities would require a level of disaggregation that far exceeds current policy … Consequently the sequential test is satisfied".

Pike also dismissed the council’s claims that the scheme would damage Rotherham and other town centres. He said: "In circumstances where a much greater trade diversion is likely to be felt by the existing retail parks than is predicted by the council, and where conditions in Rotherham town centre are not as bleak as portrayed by the council, I believe that the adverse impact on town centre vitality and viability is likely to be very small and not ‘significant’".

He continued: "Thus even if it was determined that Rotherham should be included in the catchment, which I do not accept, the impact test is satisfied. And while greater expenditure would be diverted from other centres outside the catchment, including Barnsley and Meadowhall, there is no evidence of there being a significant adverse impact at these locations".

Martin Robeson Planning Practice acted for Budenny LLP.

Click here to download the decision from Compass Online (subscription service): DCS number 200-001-212.

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