Food store led scheme leads to full costs award

A company promoting the construction of a 1,200m2 net food store and a Class B2 workshop in Shropshire has achieved a successful outcome to its appeal with a full award of costs being made against the council.

The site contained a number of existing businesses. The planning application had been recommended for approval by officers. In advance of the hearing the council confirmed that it would not be producing a written statement but would rely on verbal observations supported by local residents. A Co-operative society also submitted information supporting the council’s decision to refuse the scheme on the basis of a failure to comply with the sequential and impact tests.

A review of the available evidence led the inspector to support the appellant’s position. The town centre schemes were aimed at delivering comparison goods floorspace and in his opinion a medium-sized food store would have little direct impact on such investment. The Co-op suggested that a number of stores in local centres would be adversely affected and that investment therein would be prejudiced. But little information had been provided about committed or planned investment and their impact figures relied in part on experience of the impact on a Co-op store in Gloucester which was not comparable. In his opinion the appellant’s empirical evidence was to be preferred which used a shopping study undertaken on behalf of the council. The size of store would be compatible with the role and function of the town centre and since it would generate up to 150 jobs this would contribute to economic activity. A safe and convenient access would also be provided.

In allowing the appeal the inspector decided that the council had failed to produce substantial evidence to support its opposition to the development. The councillors who attended the hearing did have local knowledge but the evidence to support their concerns was weak. In addition the Co-op and other objectors did not produce evidence to substantiate the council’s reasons for refusal and a full award of costs in favour of the appellants was justified.

Inspector: Mark Dakeyne; Hearing

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