Those with an interest in the retail sector will know that development plan policy generally seeks to ensure that the vitality and viability of district centres is protected and that it is not undermined by changes of use from retail use. The loss of a retail unit in a north Wales shopping centre has been allowed by an inspector, however, after he decided that conversion of the former newsagent’s with attached dwelling to three dwellings would be preferable to long-term vacancy (DCS Number 400-014-214).
The inspector reasoned that the existing retail unit was exceptionally modest in size and that its loss would not harm the overall quantum of retail floorspace within the centre as a whole. He also found that the quantity of vacant units in the district shopping centre materially harmed its vitality and viability. He further reasoned that replacing a vacant building with three dwellings would assist in supporting the vitality and viability of nearby commercial premises. He concluded that the proposal would accord with the objective of development plan policy.
We have noticed, here on the Blog, that when an inspector concludes, not that a proposal accords with policy, but that it accords with the objective of policy, the decision is likely to be worth a closer look. We are not convinced that this one bears scrutiny but what do readers think?
The following DCP section is relevant: 13.732