Judge rejects legal challenge against shop food unit conversion

A Leicestershire man has failed in a High Court challenge against a planning consent to convert a local shop into a Domino's pizza outlet, after a judge rejected his arguments that the decision had not taken account of relevant local planning policies and had breached equality legislation.

Domino's: Castle Donington outlet secures consent
Domino's: Castle Donington outlet secures consent

Richard Stroud has been leading a campaign against closure of the GoLocal store at 10 Bondgate, Castle Donington, saying it is an essential facility, especially for old people.

But a High Court judge, sitting in Birmingham, upheld North West Leicestershire District Council's April decision to grant planning permission for the change of use.

Stroud, who lives next door to the property, contended that the decision unlawfully failed to take account of two local plan policies designed to protect shops in the town centre.

He also alleged that  there had been a breach of the Equality Act 2010 by reason of "allegedly inadequate consideration of the effect of the closure of the local shop on local residents with one of the protected characteristics, namely the elderly".

Judge David Cooke said that, although councillors had not specifically considered the local plan policies, they had been referred to in a planning officer's report to the committee.

The judge said that the shop did not fall within the definition of a "community facility" and was not so vital that it could be viewed as a "key service".

He accepted that a local shop might in principle amount to a "key service," but that depended on the particular circumstances. He noted that there were three other food shops in the area, including a convenience store 275 metres away and a Co-Op branch slightly more distant.

Objectors said the GoLocal store was "thriving". But that was disputed by its owner, who described it as "uneconomic despite his best efforts", the judge’s ruling said.

Arguments that the council had failed to take adequate account of the shop's importance to old people were also rejected.

Stroud v North West Leicestershire District Council. Case Number: CO/2092/2018

In a planning appeal decision earlier this month, a London borough succeeded in resisting the change of use of a shop to a Caribbean hot food takeaway in a neighbourhood centre. And in September, the change of use of a vacant shop to a mixed restaurant and hot food takeaway in another London borough was rejected when an inspector backed a council policy prioritising public health.

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