Retail to residential prior approval refused for lack of evidence

A dwelling from a retail use in a Buckinghamshire town centre was refused prior approval for lack of evidence that the loss of the retail unit would not harmfully impact the provision of services in the area.

The appeal site comprised part of a terrace of four commercial units and was a former art supplies shop, now vacant. The inspector noted the requirement under paragraph M.2 of the GPDO suggested that a change to residential use from retail may be undesirable because it could impact on the adequate provision of services in a particular location. However, he also noted the GPDO stated that change should only be resisted where there was a reasonable prospect of the building being used to provide services that would invlove a shops or financial and professional services. The issue in this case revolved around the meaning of the term reasonable prospect. The appellant’s retail market assessment stated that the retail unit had been vacant since October 2018 and argued the site’s proximity to other retail users such as Tesco Express to the north of the site, its lack of parking and the anticipated footfall in the vicinity of the site meant it was not reasonably likely to be used again for retail purposes. But the inspector disagreed, opining that the assessment did not present any evidence in the form of a marketing exercise undertaken at a reasonable price to demonstrate that there was no interest in the building for retail uses in the future. This was the type of evidence that he considered was necessary to meet the GPDO test and the appellant had not provided it.

Inspector: Graham Wyatt; Written representations

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