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Retail – Edge of Town Centre

Client Problem

  • Our client owned a retail unit occupied by DIY store which went bust and the client was forced to review their asset.  The client had previously secured planning consent to sub-divide the unit when the operator flagged up trading difficulties.  By error, there was no restriction on the use class, leaving the way open for ‘open A1’ use.  The client applied for a ‘lawful development certificate’
  • On realising its mistake, the Council refused the application and requested, in the name of the Council Leader, to JR their own decision.  Inevitably, the JR request was refused and the Council was ordered to pay the client’s costs
  • Our client then submitted a detailed application for a new supermarket on the site, with therefore the backdrop of the Council and Council Leader in particular having been humiliated as well as having the influential town centre traders’ bodies up in arms at the prospect of a new supermarket, outside the town centre

Our Approach

  • Putting the recent JR history to rest was a crucial.  We had to sanitise the political landscape to enable the Council to make the right decision when the new application reached committee, rather than it trying to level the score after its previous embarrassment
  • We reset the relationship with the Council Leader through direct liaison, using another senior member of the client team to front the application and by encouraging the client not to take their full allocation awarded JR costs as a gesture of goodwill
  • We established that the scheme could be supported if we organised the local businesses around the proposed supermarket in support
  • In addition, we needed to tap into a latent support we knew existed throughout the town, but which had not been motivated allowing the NIMBY town centre traders and a small number of objectors to dominate the debate

Result

  • A long and effective support campaign targeting local businesses and residents, strategically placed media stories and very carefully choreographed attendance at town and district council meetings – including the planning committee meeting itself – bore fruit.  At committee, our local supporters picketed the meeting and filled the committee room
  • The officer recommendation was for refusal but members voted against 6-4.  The follow up motion to recommend approval was passed unanimously 10-0 and the application was approved

Retail – Edge of Town Centre

Client Problem Our client owned a retail unit occupied by DIY store which went bust and the client was forced to review their asset.  The client had previously secured planning consent to sub-divide the unit when the operator flagged up trading difficulties.  By error, there was no restriction on the use class, leaving the way […]