The council felt that there was an excessive concentration of office uses in the area. The inspector was unconvinced, observing that there was residential accommodation in the upper floors of the building and in nearby premises. However, he offered considerable support for the council's objective of seeking uses that promote greater activity in the area, especially in the evening. He saw that the area was very quiet and lacked natural surveillance, a situation that was likely to foster a fear of crime.
The council acknowledged that the site's position and lack of passing foot traffic limited its attractiveness but argued that when an adjacent redevelopment opened this situation would alter. The inspector accepted that a food and drink outlet would give the area vibrancy and could improve safety and security. He found that the weight of argument favoured retaining this option but agreed that the likelihood of such a use coming forward was a key factor.
He noted that the premises had been vacant since 2003 and that the adjacent development was unlikely to occur until at least 2010. He also agreed with the appellants that there were more direct routes to the new development. Given the prospect of the property remaining empty and the ensuing harm to the area's character and appearance, he saw no compelling planning benefits in preserving the option of a food and drink outlet.
DCS Number 100-058-490
Inspector Jon Roberts; Hearing.