The proposal involved the change of use of premises on a primary shopping frontage from a class A1 shop to a class A3 café. Adopted policy for such locations aimed to prevent harm to the vitality and viability of town centres by ensuring that redundant properties were adequately marketed for an alternative retail use. The inspector was not persuaded that the appellants had satisfactorily demonstrated that reasonable attempts had been made to market the retail unit for an appropriate and continuous period of time.
Moreover, he saw little evidence that the retail unit had been offered under reasonable terms and conditions or at an appropriate value. Consequently, he concluded, it had not been demonstrated that the shop was no longer required or that another class A1 retail use could not viably trade from it. The proposed change of use would therefore have a harmful effect on the centre’s retail function and would be contrary to adopted local plan policy, he concluded.
However, the inspector noted that from 31 August, the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 means that changes from class A1 to class A3 use no longer require planning permission, being subsumed into the same use class. In his view, this represented a significant fallback position that meant the proposed change of use was likely to be implemented. Giving this position considerable weight, he concluded that it outweighed the conflict with the development plan.
Inspector: Jeff Tweddle; Written representations