CASEBOOK: Appeal cases - Food and drink uses - Plan threshold on non-retail uses ruled arbitrary

In allowing the change of use of a vacant shop unit in a north-west London shopping centre, an inspector has concluded that a council policy imposing a 30 per cent limit on non-retail uses within designated shopping frontages was arbitrary.

The scheme involved using the front part of the unit as a delicatessen and the rear portion as a restaurant and cafe with seating for approximately 30 people. The premises were situated in a thriving and vibrant local shopping centre whose underlying vitality the council sought to maintain. However, the inspector judged that the 30 per cent policy should not be used as an absolute ceiling or limit.

He observed that the centre continued to thrive even though more than 30 per cent of the units in many of its shopping frontages were in non-retail use. There was no clear evidence that the appeal proposal would result in a significant length of dead frontage, he ruled. The combination of retail and food and drink use at the premises would assist in meeting the day-to-day needs of the local community, he decided.

DCS No: 39131969; Inspector: Bob Parry; Inquiry.

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