Midlands council approves out-of-centre retail scheme

A Midlands council has approved plans for a 130-unit retail development on an out-of-centre site after planners concluded that the development met the National Planning Policy Framework's (NPPF) sequential test and that impacts on existing local retailers would not be significantly adverse.

An artist's impression of the finished scheme
An artist's impression of the finished scheme

Cannock Chase Council’s planning control committee unanimously approved the application for the new designer outlet village at Mill Green on the edge of Cannock at a meeting last week.

According to the council, the scheme would consist of 130 designer outlet retail units, restaurants, a play area and a visitor centre and at 23,758 square metres would be the biggest development of its kind in the West Midlands region.

A planning report into the application said that the main issues to be considered included whether the scheme met the NPPF’s sequential and retail impact tests, and the loss of employment land on a site not designated for retail use.

With regards to the sequential test, the report said that an independent retail study carried out on behalf of the council found that there were not "any suitable and alternative sites for the proposals and therefore the application meets the sequential test as no sequentially preferable sites are available."

With regards to local retail impacts, the report said that the retail study had found that there were "not any impacts that could be considered to be significantly adverse, subject to appropriate controls".

On the use of an employment site for the scheme, the report said that local planning policy included "flexibility for alternative uses on employment sites, subject to certain criteria", and the NPPF "states that planning policies should avoid long-term protection of sites allocated for employment use where there is no realistic prospect of a site being used for that purpose".

Gordon Alcott, portfolio leader for economic development and planning, said "The proposal will bring in the shops that people have been asking for, for a number of years, with brands such as Boss, Calvin Klein, Paul Smith and Superdry which may feature in the outlet centre.

"It would also enhance the regeneration of the district with new jobs and investment. I hope that most of the new jobs will go to people from the Cannock area and surrounding district, there will also be the opportunity for construction workers with up to 700 jobs being available during the construction phase."

The application has now been referred to the secretary of state to consider whether the application should be called in.

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