Editor's pick: Proposals to amend site brief given little weight

A Surrey council's intention to amend an emerging development emerging development brief for a mixed scheme can be given little weight because this could prompt a legal challenge by the appellants, an inspector has ruled.

200-002-912 (Image Credit: CgMs Ltd)
200-002-912 (Image Credit: CgMs Ltd)

An area action plan identified the appeal site as suitable for redevelopment for employment use with managed student accommodation above. A first draft of the development brief showed employment on the lower levels with student accommodation above, with other parts of the site safeguarded for open space. A second-stage brief proposed to include the site within a larger area identified for public open space and public realm, along with education and residential uses.

The appellants questioned the legality of the second draft and the inspector agreed that little weight could be placed on it. It was not clear whether the document would form part of the development plan and it appeared to conflict with the area action plan, she found. In her opinion, approving the appeal scheme would not necessarily thwart the council’s aspirations to provide a primary school on the wider site, so allowing the appeal would not prejudice the planning process.

She found that the scheme would deliver enhanced student accommodation, a mix of retail, food and drink and employment uses at ground level, better use of a brownfield site and an enhanced public realm. She recognised strong local opposition to the scheme and was mindful of the government’s localism agenda, but concluded that these factors had to be balanced against its benefits. The scheme did not conflict with the development plan or national planning guidance, she concluded.

Inspector: Jennifer Vyse; Inquiry

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