The vacant building had last been used as a commercial storage unit. Despite no shortage in the borough, local policy sought to prevent the loss of employment land except where no longer suitable or viable and unsuccessfully marketed. Noting the location of the premises behind a local centre and with public transport links, and the good state of the recently refurbished building, the inspector decided that it could continue to function in a B1 employment use, although an unsatisfactory access and proximity to flats made it unsuitable for B2 and B8 uses. The inspector did not find the appellant’s marketing evidence inadequate and did not demonstrate a business use could not be found for the building.
The inspector relied on the council’s strategic flood risk assessment maps in the absence of a site specific assessment, and which showed the site access in an area where serious and rapid flooding could occur. A flood warning and evacuation plan had not been submitted to show how users of the community hall would be kept safe in the event of a flood. With no evidence that the alleyways linking the building to the main street could be used as a safe exit, imposing a condition instead would not be reasonable, in the inspector’s opinion.
Inspector: Graham Chamberlain; Hearing