The cleared site had been allocated for non-food retail, leisure, offices and housing uses in the local plan. The appellant contended that the box-like design of the shop units, led by the function of the internal space, and use of modern materials were expected outcomes of the allocation and would have no greater harm on the setting of the conservation area than other uses allowed by the local plan.
But the inspector concluded that the development would harm the character and appearance of the locality and the conservation area because it did not respect the traditional character and form of local buildings. In her view, the allocated uses did not necessarily require large buildings, while the final design would have to take account of the conservation area in any event.
The main parties agreed that a retail impact assessment was not required because the plan allocation included retail floorspace. The inspector disagreed, giving full weight to a post-NPPF local plan policy requiring all retail proposals exceeding 1,000 square metres outside the town centre to be accompanied by a retail assessment. Without one, she concluded, it could not be demonstrated that the development would not have a detrimental effect on the vitality and viability of existing town centre businesses.
Inspector: Amanda Blicq: Hearing