CASEBOOK: Further market days ruled out due to impact on trade

Enforcement action taken against breach of a condition imposing restrictions on trading days at an indoor market at an out of-centre retail park in Cornwall has been upheld despite arguments that more frequent market operations would not harm trading conditions in a nearby town centre.

The condition allowed the market to operate on Saturdays and Sundays and for no more than ten days a year on other days, but the site had been used for continuous Wednesday trading. However, the appellant claimed that due to various permissions that had been granted by the council, there was no restriction on the number of weekdays on which the market could open. The inspector rejected legal arguments that the condition had not been reasonably imposed or materially breached.

On the planning merits of the case, he conceded that the deemed application should relate to a variation of the condition to allow trading on 52 Wednesdays a year. But he was not convinced that there was a need for the full amount of additional trading required. He pointed out that the demand for the market, its popularity and the site's physical ability to accommodate it did not amount to a need for the purposes of PPG6.

While agreeing that the market had been successful in meeting a need that had not been met elsewhere, the inspector was concerned about the appellant's reluctance to accept any lesser period of additional trading than the 52 Wednesdays sought. The case for an increase in trading days of almost 46 per cent had not been demonstrated, he ruled.

In examining guidance on the sequential approach, the inspector concluded that since the proposal involved varying an existing planning permission, no site selection procedure needed to be applied because the appellant merely sought to modify the number of days trading from a well-established site. To meet the need for 52 days trading in the town centre would not overcome the perceived need to improve trading levels at the market, he agreed.

He considered that any significant expansion of the operation would have an adverse effect on the sensitive trading position of the nearby town centre and its fledgling regeneration scheme. He also found that any significant intensification of the market operation without major improvements in accessibility by all forms of transport was bound to exacerbate existing traffic problems.

DCS No: 40670086; Inspector: John Martin; Inquiry.

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