The site was allocated in the adopted local plan for a wide range and type of employment. The 8,445 square metre proposal comprised 60 per cent office space, 30 per cent storage and distribution and ten per cent community uses. The council refused permission out of concern that the storage element would lead to highway safety issues for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians on narrow roads and at pinch points. It would accept only ten per cent storage use.
While recognising the council's concerns, the inspector found insufficient evidence to show that a 30 per cent storage element could not be accommodated safely. He found the appellants’ forecasting of HGV trips reasonable and robust, showing that this element would result in only a marginal increase in HGVs passing along routes to the site. He noted that existing roads already had significant HGV usage without raising specific highway safety concerns.
In conclusion, the inspector held that the appeal site was clearly needed to meet demand for a mix and variety of all types of employment space in the area, as indicated in the council’s employment land review. The scheme’s many benefits outweighed any negatives, he held. He refused the appellants’ claim for costs against the council, finding that unreasonable behaviour leading to unnecessary expense had not been demonstrated, the council’s reason for refusal had been substantiated and it had legitimate concerns over highway safety.
Inspector: Luke Fleming; Inquiry