The site had been identified in a strategic regeneration framework produced in 2018 as suitable for commercial-led development. The council had limited permission for the car park to 12 months, rather than the five years sought, on the grounds that changing dynamics in the area meant redevelopment of the site was imminent.
The inspector held that the council had provided no substantive evidence to support this claim, remarking that the framework stated that full redevelopment of the area could take 20 years. He also noted that the appeal site was identified as likely to be developed in the longer-term phase, given its distance from the city centre and more complex land ownership patterns. In his view, the council’s anticipation of imminent redevelopment did not stack up because it had cited no specific emerging proposals or evidence of developer interest.
Extending the time limit to five years would not undermine the council’s regeneration objectives for the area, he concluded. In awarding full costs to the appellants, he opined that the council had provided only vague general assertions about the site’s imminent redevelopment unsupported by any detailed analysis or evidence and had acted unreasonably in restricting the consent to 12 months.
Inspector: Thomas Hatfield; Written representations