The proposal comprised around 600m2 of floor space next to two buildings of townscape merit and would house roughly 30 employees. The new and existing buildings would be occupied by the same local employer. The inspector recorded that PPG4 encourages economic development and this is reflected in the draft of PPS4. While he gave less weight to the latter because of its consultative status, he noted the government's desire to recognise the needs of businesses, encourage a positive approach to development and ensure efficient and effective use of land.
He noted that PPS6 identifies offices as a town centre use and advises that a sequential approach should be adopted, starting with town centre locations as first choice followed by edge-of-centre and then out-of-centre sites. Although the location fell in the last category, he saw no evidence that there were any suitable town centre or edge-of-centre sites available for offices anywhere in the borough.
He took into account the borough's need for office accommodation, the lack of available sites, the need to make effective use of urban land, the relatively small scale of the proposal and the fact that the office would be an adjunct to an office in neighbouring buildings. On that basis, he held that the principle of office development on the site was acceptable subject to accessibility. He observed that the site was on a bus route and near two rail stations. He also judged that the new building was designed to a high standard and would protect the character and setting of the buildings of townscape merit.
DCS Number 100-058-503
Inspector David Hogger; Inquiry.