Alternative uses on protected employment land reflect changing needs

An outline mixed residential and business use scheme on previously developed land within a commercial centre in an Essex town won permission from an inspector in the context of changing policy protection of employment land.

400-023-734 (Image Credit: Carter Jonas LLP)
400-023-734 (Image Credit: Carter Jonas LLP)

Permission had been granted in 2014 for a mixed use of the safeguarded employment site, and the council considered that the current scheme provided neither sufficient commercial land nor the new commercial buildings it had expected to be built under the terms of this permission. The inspector accepted that although the appeal proposal was a standalone outline application, the earlier permission was a material consideration that established the baseline of permitted uses.

The inspector agreed with the council that due to an overall loss of employment land, both in terms of the quantity of land and the amount of floorspace, the proposed development would conflict with adopted local plan policy seeking to safeguard employment land. However, she gave weight to emerging local plan policy containing less restrictive criteria for assessing non-employment uses on existing industrial estates, a criteria based approach which more closely accorded with NPPF paragraph 120 requirement for planning policies and decisions to reflect changes in the demand for land and support applications for alternative uses where the proposed use would contribute to meeting an unmet need for development in the area. Finding that the market assessment showed there would be very limited harm to the overall provision of employment land in the district and in the light of a need for housing including affordable housing, the inspector allowed the appeal.

Inspector: Susan Harley; Written representations


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