Employment agency expansion thwarted by green belt planning controls

Pertemps Investments Ltd has failed to secure permission to expand their national headquarters in the West Midlands green belt despite claiming that its operational and business requirements justified the development.

The company occupied a grade II* listed building which it had restored from dereliction. It stated that the company had never been out of the Sunday Times top 100 and was a major UK employer involving employee recruitment. Its existing site had been chosen for image and presentation which were integral with its business model, the company asserted. Consequently, it proposed to redevelop an existing car park with basement parking and two floors of offices and meeting rooms above. This would ensure continued occupation of the site allowing more staff to be employed and the future of the listed building to be preserved.

In assessing the policy background the inspector had regard to a local plan adopted in late 2013 which supported the expansion of businesses within the green belt where this would make a significant contribution to local employment. However, in his opinion in order to be consistent with paragraph 89 of the national planning policy framework, this did not include new buildings. Consequently, the scheme was inappropriate and the benefits in support of the scheme did not meet the high hurdle of being ‘very special’. There was little evidence that another business would not occupy the premises, he held, and the limited impact on the setting of the listed building and surrounding parkland did not outweigh the harm to the openness of the area.

Inspector: David Nicholson; Hearing

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