DC Casebook: Housing: Conversion - Village commercial space loss resisted

The residential conversion of a former chemist's shop in a Somerset village has been rejected on the grounds that it would reduce commercial employment opportunities.

The inspector observed that the retail function had not been lost from the village because the chemist had relocated about 50m away. He had some sympathy with the appellant's case that there was no market for the property in retail use. He saw that there were other vacant retail premises nearby and accepted that local demand was likely to be weak in current market conditions. He decided that the conversion would not significantly harm the village's retail function.

However, he recognised that the council had sought to widen the application of a policy dealing solely with retail use, noting that its appeal statement concluded that the premises would be lost for any form of commercial development. He understood this approach and saw no reason why the property might not be attractive for a wider range use.

In addition, the inspector noted that both a local plan policy and an emerging supplementary planning document sought to curb any increase in travel, especially commuting, by concentrating residential development in principal urban areas. He reasoned that opposing the loss of employment opportunities in small settlements must go hand in hand with resisting commuting growth.

DCS Number 100-064-241

Inspector Roger Pritchard; Written representations

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