Drinking outlet supported despite amenity concern

Despite acknowledged harm to the amenities of local residents and visitors, an inspector has concluded that economic benefits support approval of plans to convert a restaurant in Leeds to a drinking establishment.

The overriding issue in was whether the scheme’s benefits to the night-time economy justified the likely harm caused to the amenities of residents and visitors. The inspector acknowledged significant evidence from the council and the police that this part of the city had an overconcentration of drinking establishments and that resultant noise, disturbance, antisocial behaviour and crime had persisted for many years. He accepted that allowing the appeal proposal would be a retrograde step that would conflict with amenity and crime prevention policies in the adopted local plan and the NPPF. 

However, he also noted that there had been no history of complaints from adjoining residents even though the former restaurant use had an ancillary basement bar. Given the scale and character of the basement’s use for predominantly drinking purposes, he was not satisfied that loss of the restaurant element would fundamentally change this situation. He did accept that the new proposal was likely to draw more patrons than previously, resulting in greater potential for noise and disturbance.

On the other hand, he took into account the potential contribution of the large vacant building, in a designated area for such a use and which had been marketed unsuccessfully as a restaurant for some time, to the local economy in terms of jobs and as a visitor destination. On balance, he decided that noise and disturbance concerns were insufficient to outweigh the benefits of securing an active use for a property that might otherwise remain vacant indefinitely. 

Inspector: Peter Eggleton; Written representations

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