Secretary Of State Dismisses Co-op Plans for Wellington Public House Car Park
The Planning Inspecorate have dismissed the appeal made by New RiverRetail, regarding their plans to build a
Co-op Convenience store at The Wellington Public House - Hotel..
The results of the appeal were announce Tuesday morning via the Planning Inspectorate web-portal....
Details and links below of the decision
Appeal Decision PDF
Appeal Decision Site visit made on 26 January 2016 by Alexander Walker MPlan MRTPI an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Decision date: 01 March 2016
Appeal Ref: APP/D0650/W/15/3134654
Wellington Hotel, 23 Town Lane, Hale, Widnes, Halton L24 4AG
The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant planning permission.
The appeal is made by NewRiver Retail Property Unit Trust, no. 4 against the decision of Halton Borough Council.
The application Ref 14/00656/FUL, dated 28 November 2014, was refused by notice dated 3 June 2015.
The development proposed is the erection of a single storey convenience store with associated car parking, landscaping and ATM machine.
Decision 1. The appeal is dismissed.
Main Issues 2. The main issues are the effect of the development on highway safety and the living conditions of the occupants of neighbouring residential properties, with regard to noise. Reasons
Highway Safety 3. The development would utilise the existing vehicular access off the slip road to Cocklade Lane which leads off Town Lane. The existing access is opposite to the entrance of Wellington Gate and currently serves The Wellington and the bowling green. The development would widen the existing access to enable two cars to enter/exit the site simultaneously.
4. To the north of the access is a tactile crossing on either side of the slip road, providing a pedestrian crossing point to the bus stop on Town Lane. Furthermore, there are tactile crossings on either side and in the middle of the entrance to Wellington Gate off Town Lane. Evidently, this stretch of Town Lane is used by pedestrians, including children, due to the close proximity of the primary school. Furthermore, the Council suggest that this area is popular with cyclists.
5. Given the above, the proximity of the slip road and junction of Wellington Gate and the numerous crossings suggest that there is interaction between vehicles and pedestrians.
6. The existing visibility along the slip road when exiting the site is already poor. The alterations to the access would result in it being positioned closer to the bend in the road. I note the Council’s assertion that this would result in the reduction of visibility; however, a stretch of the pavement would also be widened to the north of the access and therefore improve the overall visibility. Whilst there is some clear disagreement between the parties as to whether sufficient visibility could be achieved, given the presence of traffic calming measures on Cocklade Lane and the subsequent reduced traffic speeds, I find that the proposed visibility would be acceptable.
7. With regard to the alterations to the stop line at the junction of the slip road and Town Lane, cars would not be readily visible to southbound traffic along the slip road as the front and rear lights would not be readily visible. Moreover, larger vehicles, such as delivery vehicles, would have to straddle both lanes of the slip road when waiting at the stop line. Therefore, the proposed alterations would pose a potential risk to road users and cyclists.
8. The access alterations do not provide adequate pedestrian and cyclist access into the site. Pedestrians approaching the site along the widened pavement to the north would have to step into the vehicle access, which would increase the potential conflict between vehicles and pedestrians. The appellant states that the proposed site plan has been amended to provide a direct link between the pavement and the entrance to the proposed store; however, there is no plan before me indicating as such.
9. I acknowledge the appellant’s survey evidence that the number of pedestrians and cyclists passing the site is perhaps not as high as the Council considers there to be. Nevertheless, it remains a popular route, particularly for pedestrians, which the proposal would likely exacerbate.
10. With regards to parking provision, a total of 37 car parking spaces would be provided for the convenience store, the public house and the bowling green. The Council’s parking standards state that for the convenience store there should be a maximum of 15 spaces and for the public house a maximum of 80 spaces. There is no indication of whether any spaces should be provided for the bowling green. Whilst I agree with the appellant’s argument that these are maximum standards and, if achievable, reduced parking should be provided, the proposed parking provision would be significantly less than the 95 spaces suggested by the Council’s standards.
11. The survey evidence submitted by the appellant suggests that the parking requirements of the public house are far less than the maximum standards suggested by the Council. However, there is no indication of whether a function was held in the large function room in the public house during the surveys or if any regular group meetings were held. Local residents state that they have witnessed occasions when the car park has been full and cars have had to park on the road. I note the appellant’s response to this stating that Marstons, the former site owners, confirmed that the findings of the survey were typical and reflective of the bowling green and other functions at the pub. However, notwithstanding the survey results, given the alleged size of the function room, the potential number of cars parked in the car park at any one time could be significantly more than the surveys suggest, which is supported by the representations received from neighbouring residents. Furthermore, the public house itself is large and the survey results could be reflective of the popularity of the business. There is no account for any increase in the demand of parking provision should the demand in the business increase.
12. The overall conclusion of the survey states that the proposed parking provision is acceptable, particularly in the context of the availability of on-street parking local to the site, which suggests that there could be occasions when the car park is full. I note the appellant’s contention that the demand for the site would be self-limiting and if the car park was full at a particularly busy time, customers would travel to other convenience stores rather than attempt to park. However, the roads adjacent to the site do not have any restrictions on them and therefore, given that they are in such close proximity to the site, people would likely park on the road, especially for instance if they were just wanting to use the ATM. This would pose a significant risk to highway safety, particularly if customers were to park on the slip road, which would reduce visibility.
13. I note the Council’s concerns regarding large service vehicles being unable to manoeuvre safely within the site. However, the appellant has confirmed that the service vehicles would have 10m rigid bodies, to which the Council have no objection. In any event, were the appeal to succeed a condition could be imposed to restrict the size of service vehicles.
14. Notwithstanding the improvements to visibility, the development would inevitably result in the intensification of the use of the access. I note that the evidence suggests that this intensification would only be minimal and that there have been no recorded accidents between 2005 and 2014 as a result of the existing access. Nevertheless, I find that the intensification of the use of the access would increase the potential conflict between road users, pedestrians and cyclists on a stretch of the highway that already has a number of potential hazards. These include the slip road; the junction of Wellington Gate; the bus stop; and, the numerous pedestrian crossings. In addition to the limited parking provision, which the appellant admits could result in people parking on the road during busy periods, and the inadequate alterations to the stop line on the slip road the cumulative effects of the development on highway safety would be severe.
15. I find therefore that the effect of the development on highway safety would be severe. As such, it would be contrary to saved Policies BE1 and TP17 of the Halton Unitary Development Plan (UDP) adopted 2005, which, amongst other matters state that development must not be detrimental to highway safety and will be required to provide safe access in to the overall transport network and safe on-site circulation to avoid danger to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Furthermore, it would fail to comply with paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework (the ‘Framework’), which states that development should only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where the residual cumulative impacts of development are severe.
16. I acknowledge the appellant’s argument that saved Policy BE1 of the UDP is not consistent with the Framework. In accordance with the judgement of Anita Colman v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2013) EWHC 1138 (Admin), the policy does not follow the “cost/benefit” approach of the Framework, failing to consider any countervailing benefit to be weighed in the balance. Therefore, in accordance with paragraph 215 of the Framework, I attribute it reduced weight.
Effects of Noise 17. The appeal site has a number of neighbouring residential properties, with the closest being those to the west, fronting Cocklade Lane. The Council is concerned that due to the close proximity of the car park and servicing area to these properties there is the potential for noise to significantly harm the living conditions of their occupants.
18. The Noise Impact Assessment submitted by the appellant identifies that there would be an increase in noise levels due to delivery vehicles and plant machinery operating on the site. To address this, the Noise Impact Assessment provides mitigation measures including the erection of an acoustic fence and for the plant machinery to be placed in acoustic enclosures.
19. The Council is not satisfied that the Noise Impact Assessment is an appropriate assessment as it was not undertaken in accordance with BS4142. However, the Council have failed to identify what the deficiencies of the assessment are and there is no evidence, based on local or national policy, to suggest that the assessment must be undertaken in accordance with BS4142.
20. The assessment identifies that there would be potentially harmful noise impacts and has recommends mitigation measures, which, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I find would be satisfactory, subject to appropriately worded conditions.
21. I find therefore that based on the conclusions of the Noise Impact Assessment, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the development would not have any significant harm on the living conditions of the occupants of neighbouring properties. As such, it would be in accordance with saved Policy PR2 of the UDP, which, amongst other matters, states that development should not cause a significant increase in ambient noise levels; and, Policy CS23 of the Halton Local Plan Core Strategy (CS) 2013, which states that development should not exacerbate and where possible, should minimise, noise pollution. Furthermore, it would accord with paragraph 123 of the Framework, which seeks to protect health and quality of life by minimising noise.
22. For similar reasons to saved Policy BE1 of the UDP, saved Policy PR2 of the UDP is not consistent with the Framework as it also fails to consider any countervailing benefit to be weighed in the balance. Therefore, in accordance with paragraph 215 of the Framework, I attribute it reduced weight.
Other Matters 23. I acknowledge the concerns raised by some local residents concerning the effect of the development on other local businesses; its design; opening hours; crime; and, the removal of trees. However, individually or cumulatively these matters hold only limited weight.
24. I also note the support of the development from some local residents as it would provide basic provisions to those that do not have access to a car. However, this matter only holds limited weight and does not outweigh the concerns I have identified above.
Conclusion 25. Suitable mitigation measures have been identified to ensure that any noise generated as a result of the proposal would not have any significant harm to the living conditions of the occupants of neighbouring properties. However, this does not negate the strong concerns I have identified regarding the effect it would have on highway safety.
26. For the reasons given above, having regard to all matters raised, the appeal is dismissed.
Alexander Walker INSPECTOR