The appellants proposed to convert the building, which lay in a protected employment area, to a mixed class B1 and D1 training and education facility. The council had refused to validate the application after categorising the proposal as a “major development”, defined in the DMPO as including provision of a building or buildings where the floorspace created would be 1,000 square metres or more.
As the proposal was purely for change of use and related to the entire building, the inspector decided that it did not constitute major development, even though the gross internal floorspace under consideration exceeded 1,000 square metres. On this basis, he held, it had been unreasonable for the council to require air quality, noise and health impact assessments, parking and servicing provision details, planning, transport and planning obligations statements, a site waste management plan and a sustainable design and construction statement.
Even if he had found that the proposal comprised a major development, he added, a covering letter providing details of the scheme’s intended end user and estimated employment numbers was sufficient without the requested economic regeneration statement. He was also unclear why further layout drawings had been requested to show specific areas of the site to be dedicated for each use, given that the essence of the proposal was to ensure flexibility in use of the building.
He concluded that the application should have been validated. After examining the planning merits of the case, including the scheme’s impact on the area’s economic function, inclusive design, parking and servicing arrangements and energy efficiency, he allowed the appeal.
Inspector: Andrew Smith; Written representations