The site was occupied by a vacant warehouse with a substantial three-storey element, a former garage with showroom and workshops, open parking and a range of occupied industrial and storage buildings. The proposal entailed the provision of 10,000 sq m of office floorspace, 2,000 sq m of industrial floorspace and 120 housing units, of which 30 per cent were to be affordable.
Both parties accepted that there was a general policy of restraint on new business and office development in the area, in line with regional planning guidance and the development plan. The council opposed the development on the basis that the office and residential use would conflict with a local planning policy seeking to retain the area for industrial and small-scale distribution and storage uses.
It argued that the replacement of the existing floorspace with office and residential uses would exacerbate the general problem of the loss of industrial uses to office activity and consequently reduce the range of job opportunities and premises. The appellants, on the other hand, presented evidence that showed a trend away from manufacturing towards office employment.
The inspector remarked that there was no up-to-date review of the council's non-housing allocations and concluded that there was no clear need for the site to be developed for industrial use. He also noted that PPG3 and PPG13 refer to the need to improve linkages between housing, jobs, local services and local amenity and emphasise planning for mixed use.
He did not accept the council's argument that the development of the site need not be mixed, since the wider area included a range of land uses. In addition, he ruled that the fact that the site was previously developed land in a sustainable location in terms of transport links, access to shopping and other facilities should add weight to the proposal.
DCS No: 28586533; Inspector: Phillip Ware; Inquiry.