Optician's store rejected in industrial unit

An enforcement notice alleging that an industrial unit in County Durham was being used for retail purposes has been upheld after investigations revealed that the appellants were selling prescription glasses to the general public.

The appellants manufactured glasses according to prescriptions brought in by members of the public. The process consisted of trimming lenses and fitting them to frames. A glazed shopfront had been fitted and frames were displayed along the interior walls. The inspector found that the sale of goods was the dominant activity and the manufacturing element merely facilitated the retail use. A material change had occurred and required permission, he held.

In assessing the planning merits of the case, the inspector accepted that the use had not harmed the character of the industrial estate. However, while recognising that the out-of-centre location might suit the appellants' needs, he felt that the same could be applied to many other retail operations and the cumulative effect would undermine national retail policies. Even restricting the amount of retail floor space in the unit to 50 per cent would be excessive and conflict with such policies, he added.

DCS Number 100-050-467

Inspector Bruce Barnett; Hearing.

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