Wednesday, 5 October 2011

QC: Sainbury's plan breaches policy

A QC commissioned by a group opposed to a Dorridge plan for Sainsbury’s has said the scheme conflicts with planning rules.

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Jeremy Cahill QC backed a report by Tyler Parks planning consultants, also commissioned by the Dorridge Residents Opposed to Village Superstore (DROVS) group, which hit out at the plan.

That report said the Forest Court scheme goes against national planning guidance PPS4, which says plans must be “consistent” with surroundings and an “appropriate scale”.

No mention of the need for a supermarket is in Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s unitary development plan, which guides what can be built, it says.

It successor, the core strategy, which has not been finalised, does not make clear the need for a supermarket, it adds.

Sainsbury’s plan is also contrary to a council-commissioned 2009 report from consultants DTZ which only backed a 550sqm supermarket for Knowle, it says.

Mr Cahill said: “As regards scale, I am in broad agreement with the analysis set out in the Tyler-Parkes letter, for it is clear to me that the current proposal is far too large when regard is had to existing local policy, and in particular to emerging local policy.”

He says the proposed 1,812sqm sales area store is “disproportionate” as it is of a similar size to Solihull supermarkets.

He points out that the plan is twice the size of a Waitrose proposed for Knowle, which itself is 24 per cent smaller than a plan proposed last year.

Mr Cahill said: “It cannot be consistent with local planning policy to locate a much larger store in Dorridge than that intended for Knowle.”

His report adds that “it seems highly unlikely that there is the spare capacity to support a store of the size that is being proposed”.

Referring to the DTZ report call for a 550sqm Knowle supermarket, he said: “Even if one were to proceed upon the basis that all this capacity should be catered for in Dorridge (and that the remaining local centres should have no new retail development), there is insufficient capacity currently to warrant a store of 1,812 sq m.”

In a press release, a DROVS spokesman said: “It’s wonderful that this pivotal QC opinion matches the views of local people – that Dorridge doesn’t need a development on this scale.”

Mr Cahill specialises in specialises in planning and environmental law at Birmingham's No 5 Chambers.

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