The inspector considered the overriding issue was whether the proposed retail use would be appropriate development in a designated business area. The council’s local plan policy identified the site as being in an important strategic industrial area where employment and storage uses only were encouraged. The council were concerned that insufficient evidence had been provided to show that the proposed building could not be severed from the main premises to become a separate and distinct retail unit selling very different goods from the bulk materials provided in the main area of the builders' merchants and therefore be no longer ancillary to it.
The inspector noted, however, the proposed retail space would be selling the same products that the business had done for 35 years within an existing retail area and that the severance concern could be dealt with by way of condition. He felt the proposal would be in keeping with established development and other ancillary retail uses within the business area, would still be ancillary despite a slight increase in floor area and would remain only a small part of the premises overall. Also, the proposed relocation of the retail area would reduce conflict between pedestrians and vehicles and improve safety at the site. He concluded no adverse effect on the established principal use on the site or the integrity of the strategic business area.
Inspector: Andrew McCormack; Written representations