Decision Maker: Planning Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Sub-division of existing retail warehouse, and change of use to create two Class E ‘commercial’ units, with reconfiguration of the site car park, elevational changes, installation of plant equipment and other ancillary works.
Three further letters of representation including one letter of support and two objecting raising concerns regarding
· traffic generation
· impact on existing town centre and
· design / appearance.
In addition, a letter was received from planning consultants acting on behalf of Tesco’s. Three specific points were raised:
1. Failure to satisfy the requirements of the sequential test.
2. Lack of necessary conditions restricting the proposed units to uses within the wider Use Class E
3. The need to utilize scarce urban land for housing
A response was subsequently received from the agents acting on behalf of Lidl to address the three issues raised.
1. The application was submitted with a sequential test and a retail impact assessment. The Officers report refers to the sequential test and both this test and the retail assessment were taken into account in reaching the recommendation. Officers are satisfied that the conclusions reached are reasonable and that due-process has been followed. The site is located in Ashford and is some distance from Staines and it is not considered that these are comparable areas for the purposes of considering this application.
2. Class E was introduced on the 1st September 2020 and replaced a number of previous use classes. Class E a) relates to this proposal which is for the ‘Display or retail sales of goods other than hot food’, although there are other sub-groups within Class E
The revisions to the Use Classes Order were introduced by the Government to streamline the Use Classes. The Government’s guidance on the use of planning conditions states that conditions restricting the future use of permitted development rights or changes of use may not pass the test of reasonableness or necessity.
Class A1 and D1 were revised to Class E, notwithstanding schools, libraries, places of worship etc. which became F.1, and it is not considered that there is an overriding reason to restrict the revised Use Class on this site.
3. The site was identified within the Preferred Options Consultations, Preferred Site Allocations Officers Site Assessment. However, Members will be aware that the Local Plan is at an early stage and the Regulation 19 is due for consultation early 2022.
As such, this document carries negligible weight in the consideration of this application.
In respect of the report, as a major application, flooding and drainage is a consideration and a Flood Risk Assessment was submitted with the application. As the site falls outside of a designated flood risk area, no flooding or drainage concerns are considered to arise.
The proposed footpath on the eastern side of Stanwell Road would result in the loss of a small length of open land designated as Protected Open Urban Space. Policy EN4 applies. Due to the small scale of the pavement being only 1.2m wide, no significant adverse impacts upon the provision of urban space are considered to arise.
In paragraph 7.22 the Transport Consultant has incorrectly stated that the new footpath is on the western side of Stanwell Road, however it is on the eastern side.
In paragraph 7.28 reference is made to a refuge area on Stanwell Road, however this is no longer being proposed.
In terms of conditions, the applicant has requested that conditions 3, 6, 8 and 21 are amended to be pre-commencement conditions rather than having a time limit of two months which is considered acceptable.
The approved plans condition 2 is also amended to remove drawing no. 102-p15 and replace it with 4415-0101-P26.
Similarly Condition 18 should be amended to drawing no. 4415-0101-P26.
With regard to condition 12, there is a requirement for 14 fast charging points. The applicant’s preference is to provide 2 rapid and 6 fast charging bays with a further 12 passive spaces provided for the future.
The final condition is without a number and should be condition 21.
The applicant has suggested that they would accept conditions relating to the specific uses and floor area restrictions if Committee members would wish these to be imposed.
Informative 5 should be amended to refer to Condition 12.
In accordance with the Council’s procedure for speaking at meetings, Mr P Wylde spoke against the proposed development raising the following key points:
- Vehicle access – the current driveway has an unusual camber and when vehicles turn they scraped the tarmac due to the design
- Access to the site would be problematic and potentially dangerous for pedestrians due to lack of a pavement and a steep incline on a grass bank
- Extra noise from business activity would cause excessive intrusion to nearby residents
- Light intrusion from the expected illuminated signs
In accordance with the Council’s procedure for speaking at meetings, Bradley Searle, Senior Acquisitions Consultant Lidl spoke for the proposed development raising the following key points:
- This proposal made efficient use of an existing vacant retail warehouse building
- A need had been identified for an additional food store provision in Ashford
- 88% of residents confirmed their support for this application
- An independent highways expert had raised no highways safety concerns with the scheme
- Improvements to the local highways network will be undertaken
- A new informal pedestrian crossing would improve pedestrian access to the site
- The access junction to and from the site would be widened
- This application would create 50 new local jobs
- Electric vehicle charging points would be installed
- The proposed food store would increase local consumer choice
During the debate the following key issues were raise
- The application is an improvement on what is currently on the site
- Electric vehicle charging points would be a positive
- Good use of an empty building
- Illuminated sign on the western wall of the building would have a detrimental effect on local residents
- Additional traffic would result in highway safety issues
- Would like to see an increase in the green credentials and the number of Electric Vehicle Charging points
For – 10
Against – 2
Decision: The application was APPROVED subject to an amendment to condition 9 as follows:
Details of the lighting levels, including surface brightness of the self-illuminated lighting fixtures on any façade of the development which faces towards residential accommodation and will be lit between 21.00hrs-07.00hrs, shall be submitted to and agreed in writing by the Local Planning authority prior to any installation. The lighting shall be implemented in accordance with the agreed details.
Reason: In the interests of amenity and protection of nearby residents from potential light nuisance.
Report author: Matthew Clapham
Publication date: 23/11/2021
Date of decision: 10/11/2021
Decided at meeting: 10/11/2021 - Planning Committee