Employment land safeguarding blocks care home proposal

After finding reasonable prospects that land in Somerset will be developed for its allocated employment use, an inspector has refused permission for a care home on the site.

The 96-unit extra care scheme was proposed on a one-hectare urban site that had been vacant for many years. The appellants claimed that the scheme would assist in regenerating the area and meet the need for more specialist care accommodation. They claimed that the site was unattractive for its allocated class B use due to issues over financial viability, physical and planning constraints and lack of demand.

The council was concerned that the site comprised the last employment allocation in the town and argued that it should be safeguarded for this purpose. The inspector recognised that a business or industrial use would have the benefit of reducing out-commuting and, depending on its form, could generate more jobs than the appeal scheme.

He recognised that these benefits would only accrue if the site did not remain vacant and that there were currently no identified end-users. Nonetheless, he concluded that allowing the loss of the employment allocation would be inappropriate. The uncertainty created by Brexit will not continue indefinitely and an upturn in business confidence could see the site being developed for speculative business or manufacturing use, he reasoned.

Inspector: Steven Rennie; Written representations

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