Casebook: Appeal case - Retail development - Store extension secured after legal tussles

Sainsbury's has secured permission from the deputy prime minister to extend a store in Oxfordshire after an earlier ministerial rejection was overturned.

The company sought to extend the net sales area from 3,370m2 to 4,756m2.

The proposal was called in and refused, against the inspector's advice, on the grounds that a clear quantitative need had not been proved. This decision was quashed by the High Court in July 2004. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision this May, ruling that the original decision was reasonable and there had been no error in law.

The retailer reapplied for permission for a revised scheme providing the same net sales area. With the council's support, it argued that the existing store was over-trading compared to its national average sales density. The extension would relieve overcrowding and congestion in the store, it insisted.

The deputy prime minister acknowledged that the store traded at approximately 50 per cent above the company average. However, contrary to the views of his inspector, he held that this was an indicator of a qualitative need for the extension and did not reinforce any quantitative need for the development.

Despite this finding, he accepted that there was sufficient capacity to support the additional turnover on the basis of the defined catchment area and forecast growth in convenience goods expenditure. He also agreed that the extension could not be accommodated on a sequentially preferable site and its trading effects would not give rise to concern as long as comparison goods floor space was limited to 15 per cent of the net sales area.

DCS No: 100039439; Inspector: Mary O'Rourke; Inquiry.

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