Gaming centre judged acceptable in retail frontage

An adult gaming centre would not harm a Hull district centre's vitality and viability even though it would breach an adopted local plan policy, an inspector has ruled.

200-008-870 (Image Credit: Lichfields)
200-008-870 (Image Credit: Lichfields)

The use was proposed in a vacant shop in a row of terraced units. It lay next door to an existing gaming centre operated by the appellant, in effect representing an extension of that use. Another gaming centre was separated from the appeal site by a further vacant unit. The parties agreed that retail uses formed about 68 per cent of the primary frontage, so the proposed change of use would breach a plan policy stating that no more than 30 per cent of such ground-floor frontages should be in non-retail use.

The council was concerned that the proposed use would not be complementary to the centre’s shopping function. In assessing the scheme’s overall effect on vitality and viability, the inspector referred to the council’s supplementary guidance and PPG. The latter, he noted, requires consideration of diversity of uses, the proportion of vacant street-level property and customers’ experience and behaviour, among other matters.

After considering these indicators, he decided that the proposal would not detract from the centre’s health but would maintain diversity of uses and lower the proportion of vacancies. He noted that the property had been marketed without success for more than two years, which in his view meant it would continue to detract from the centre’s viability and vitality even though the overall vacancy rate in the area was fairly low. This attracted significant weight in his decision.

The inspector concluded that the proposal would comply with the local plan primary frontage policy because, even though the stated 30 per cent proportion of non-retail uses would be exceeded, the appellants had demonstrated that it would not undermine the centre’s overall vitality and viability.

Inspector: Darren Hendley; Hearing

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