The proposal included 6,708 square metres of class A1 retail space and a 1,930 square metre community hub comprising a coffee shop, restaurant, pub, crèche and class B1 starter offices. The main issue was the impact of the out-of-centre retail element on the city centre and investment within it.
The inspector noted that permission had previously been granted for a hotel, residential development and a 1,650 square metre convenience store on the same 3.2-hectare site, with no objection being raised to the loss of high-quality farmland. He also noted that numerous existing permissions for retail developments outside the city had not gone ahead, but found that there were various factors affecting their implementation in the foreseeable future.
Applying the sequential test, the inspector found no preferable sites in the city centre, even with possible disaggregation. On the issue of trading impact, he was satisfied that the appeal scheme would not have a significant impact on city centre vitality and viability, subject to conditions limiting the range of comparison goods sold.
Inspector: David Nicholson; Hearing