Councillor Clive Stevens withdrew from the meeting for the duration of this item since he would be making a Public Forum statement opposing this application.
Officers introduced the report and made the following comments:
(1) Details of the site location were provided
(2) The site had lawful B2 use and officers raised concerns that a continued industrial use of the site would not add to the vitality of the Town Centre
(3) While the site is in the Whiteladies Road Town Centre, for the purposes of the sequential test (applying policy DM7) the site was assessed as being out of centre and had passed the sequential test and the Council’s Retail experts considered the proposal would not have a significant impact on the primary shopping area
(4) Conditions were proposed to address concerns relating to pollution control and refuse storage
(5) There were no objections from highways officers – in addition, it was proposed to remove vehicular access points along Aberdeen Road which would improve pedestrian safety
(6) Officers were therefore proposing that the application was approved subject to conditions.
In response to Councillors’ questions, officers made the following points:
(7) Conditions required the existing drop kerb at the site to be re-instated
(8) In the event of the approval of a change of use, the applicant would have three years to implement the planning permission. The permission would not mean that the existing occupiers (Kwik Fit) would have to immediately move out
(9) In terms of the consideration of the job proposition - Policy DM12 seeks to safeguard employment floor space under B1-B8 use Class. Retail jobs are not covered by this policy.
Councillors made the following points:
(10) The application failed Policy DM12 and did not meet the sequential test since there were no other sites available for these kinds of units. The change of use would not add to the diversification of Whiteladies Road and would result in car owners having to travel further to get their car repaired. There was no good reason to approve it
(11) The existing employment type was higher quality and adds to the vitality and sustainability of the centre. Future use could well be retail which was already at high saturation levels
(12) Whilst removal of vehicle access was welcomed, the number of proposed cycle stands was not enough and waste storage arrangements were not satisfactory or hygienic
(13) The proposed change of use had the potential to further reduce the number of skilled working class jobs in the area and replace them with unskilled jobs
(14) The application should be refused on the grounds of Policy DM12 and the impact on employment sites and commercial floor space
(15) The proposed application was not sustainable and should be refused under Policy DM12
(16) The application seemed speculative and would be difficult to refuse but could be conditioned as indicated by Councillor Stevens in his Public Forum statement to limit use, refuse and noise
(17) The application could also be refused on the grounds of Policy DM7 since it failed the sequential test. Officers indicated that refusal on this ground would be weak.
Councillor Olly Mead moved, seconded by Councillor Tom Brook and, upon being put to the vote, it was
RESOLVED – that (8 for, 0 against, 2 abstentions – Councillor Clive Stevens declared an interest and did not participate or vote) – that the application is refused under Policy DM12 on the grounds that the property should be retained for existing employment use.