Casebook - Appeal cases - Leisure and entertainment - Snooker club held compatible with retail viability

The change of use of a basement store at a shop in east London to a snooker club has been allowed following findings that it would not harm the vitality and viability of a shopping centre or the living conditions of neighbours due to noise and disturbance.

The substantial property contained a supermarket selling a wide range of products on the ground floor. The council maintained that it was an essential local shop as defined in a development plan policy because it provided a local service for many elderly and less mobile people. Its main concern was that the loss of the basement storage would prejudice the store's attractiveness to a future food retailer and thus harm the centre's vitality.

However, the council was unable to provide any evidence to show how the proposal would cause the loss of the existing retail operation or to point to any statements in the development plan indicating a target ratio of storage to retail floor space. The inspector agreed with the appellants that the objective of the policy was to safeguard existing facilities now rather than protect the premises against unspecified change at some time in the future.

He noted that the shop, which operated 24 hours a day, would separate the snooker club from flats on the upper floors. He found no openings directly below habitable rooms at the rear through which sound would be likely to escape. He opined that local residents would already experience a certain level of noise and disturbance from the use of the shop and other premises in the area. He considered that the proposal would cause no material increase in noise and disturbance.

DCS No: OT100-044-683; Inspector: Brian Cook; Hearing.

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