Retail shipping containers out of character but acceptable in vitality terms

Five shipping containers for retail use in the rear of a commercial property in a district town centre in north London were refused for harm to the character and appearance of the area and living conditions of nearby residential occupiers as well as harm to the setting of a nearby heritage asset. However, no harm was found to the vitality and viability of the district centre.

The appeal site was located at the rear of a commercial property where it joined a residential road leading of the main high street. The inspector considered that the industrial form and metal appearance of the containers would detract from the traditional brick and render character of the immediately adjoining residential area and the setting of the nearby grade II listed cinema located opposite. She felt the containers would appear overly prominent and incongruous as they were to be set at a higher level than the existing commercial properties from which they were visually detached.

As the proposal involved retail use of the containers seven days a week including bank holidays and would involve a lot of deliveries of goods to the site, the inspector also felt the noise and disturbance emanating from the site would harm the living conditions of surrounding occupiers, regardless of any conditions that could be imposed. However, whilst she concluded the proposal’s harms outweighed its benefits overall, the inspector held there was no harm arising to the town centre’s vitality or viability as the site was located within the town centre boundary, albeit outside the primary or secondary retail shopping frontages, and the centre did not appear to be in any sort of decline.   

Inspector: Rachael Bust; Written representations

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