Change of use from A1 to A4.
Permit (contrary to officer recommendation).
Additional information was reported on the agenda update sheet regarding five additional letters of support received since the report was finalised. The letters do not cite any new comments which have not been previously raised and are therefore addressed within the main report. Further information on the update sheet confirmed an application had been received and made valid for the change of use of the existing micro-pub to retail.
The following members of the public addressed the committee:
Mr R Dyer – Supporter
Ms H Platts – Supporter
Mr E Sye – Applicant
Cllr J Elliot – CDC Member
Cllr T Johnson – CDC Member (read by Cllr Elliot)
During the discussion Members debated opening times, the application in relation to Local Plan Policy 29, the need for a flexible approach and promotion of economic development, a noise management scheme, and the lack of marketing as required by Appendix E of the Local Plan. Mrs Stevens responded that the opening hours set out in the report were long, but the applicant did not necessarily intend to use all of the hours and if the application was permitted, a condition could be added to limit the hours. Mrs Stevens confirmed that a noise management plan had not been submitted with the application but that the submission and approval of a noise management plan prior to first occupation could be required by a planning condition. Mrs Stevens further explained that with regards to policy the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is supportive of town centres having a range of uses and Planning Policy 29 is in line with that by allowing the flexibility to move away from retail use providing the marketing process has been undertaken, and it has been demonstrated that there is no longer a requirement for on-going retail use. Mrs Stevens confirmed that she did not have any information regarding the marketing or the impact on the business should a move be delayed whilst the marketing process is completed.
Members further discussed Local Policy Plan 29 in relation to local need as there are currently eight empty units within the area, and that the Ward Members and local people were supportive of the application. Mrs Stevens confirmed that Policy 29 states the lack of local need must be demonstrated by a marketing exercise and without, it cannot be confirmed that there is no local need, as it has not been tested. With regards to the opening hours, a consistent approach would be taken with the license to ensure conflict does not exist and Mrs Stevens also explained she understood an application for a licence had been made.
The Chairman commented that there is concern relating to making a decision which is contrary to policy, but with knowledge of the site, which is set-back and less prominent and therefore does not provide an effective retail space, it may be appropriate to make such a decision. Mr Whitty responded that having a sense from the discussion of how Members are considering the application, he wished to clarify the material considerations, advising this policy in within the CDC Local Plan and is also reflected in the emerging Selsey Neighbourhood Plan and both require marketing to be completed. There is a concern about taking a decision contrary to policy without good reason, as it may impact on applying that policy consistently and fairly at a future date. Members had received training that stated that the starting point for decision making is policy unless material considerations suggest otherwise. During the discussion there had been a number of valid material considerations such as the set-back position of the unit, which does not lend itself to retail and which would allow for outdoor seating, which are material considerations. Mr Whitty also noted that the existing unit will be given over to an A1 use in mitigation, but this has not yet reached determination point. If granted permission, it may not potentially progress, but that could be considered as part this permission. Mr Whitty added that it could not be presumed that as there were vacant units in the area that this unit would not be taken for retail, which is the reason for the marketing requirement, and this could lead to future applicants to consider that the marketing requirement is not necessary.
The Chairman confirmed that the recommendation was to refuse the application and asked if any Member would like to put forward a proposal. A proposal to permit the application was both put forward and seconded. Miss Golding added that it was important to minute the reasons for permitting the application and the vote would be whether to permit the application. The Chairman requested Mr Whitty to clarify the conditions. Mr Whitty responded that there is some delegated authority for officers to add conditions to decisions of the committee and these would relate to time limit and plans, a noise management plan, and finalising the hours of opening as the primary conditions. Mr Whitty added that there was also the potential for a 106 to ensure that the existing unit is brought into use as an A1 unit prior to the site being occupied. Members sought further clarification in relation to the licensing and Mr Whitty responded the that role of the Planning Committee and Licensing Committee were different, and the licence may provide the opportunity to open until midnight but that may not be acceptable under planning permission. The noise management plan would also have to be considered, and the conditions would be formed from that in accordance with environmental health officer recommendations. Mr Whitty added that Miss Golding had advised that as the existing unit had not yet been granted permissions, it would not be advisable to tie that with this application.
The Chairman confirmed that the proposal was a recommendation to permit the planning application with delegated powers to allow the officers to create the conditions as explained by Mr Whitty.
Recommendation to Permit agreed contrary to officer recommendation.
Cllr Oakley left the meeting at 10.40am and did not return.