Casebook - Appeal cases - Retail Development - Supermarket post office hurdles highway obstacle

The enlargement of a supermarket in a Devon town centre by converting an adjoining car repair workshop to a post office has been allowed following a ruling that it would not harm highway safety.

The inspector accepted that the closure of the post office and its relocation to the supermarket was locally unpopular. However, he pointed out that the post office could be moved into any local shop without planning permission and regardless of servicing or highway safety implications. The fact that the additional space would be used as a post office was not material to the proposed change of use except insofar as it was likely to result in additional pedestrian and vehicle movements, he held.

He was satisfied that lorries could park safely for unloading at the supermarket. But he noted that on occasion cars were parked illegally in loading bays and on double yellow lines, obstructing the use of these areas by delivery vehicles. He heard from the police authority that it had insufficient manpower to prevent such offences.

He did not consider that a lack of policing resources was a convincing justification for preventing the supermarket's enlargement. It seemed manifestly unfair to him that the supermarket company's legal aspirations should be limited because of others' illegal actions.

The inspector considered that the limited additional vehicular visits required would not increase traffic sufficiently to cause highway problems.

While recognising that the post office would not be in a central position, he found that it would be within reasonable walking distance from car parks and a bus stop. He foresaw no safety implications for the increased level of use on the footways.

DCS No: OT100-044-549; Inspector: Colin Ball; Inquiry.


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