Planning Support Statement Station Road, Coleshill - August 2015

 
PAP/2015/0525

Planning Support Statement
Station Road, Coleshill      NORTH WARWICKSHIRE
                              BOROUGH COUNCIL

                              RECEIVED
                               17/08/2015
August 2015
                        PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
                                DIVISION
Contents
1.     Introduction                          3

2.     Site Context and Proposal             4

3.     Planning Policy Context               9

4.     Employment Land                      16

5.     Vitality and Viability Assessment    19

6.     Sequential Assessment                23

8.     Other Planning Matters               35

9.     Conclusions                          39

Appendix 1: Retail Assessment Tables        41

Appendix 2: Proposed Store Catchment Area   42

Contact
Gareth Barton
gareth.bartons@turley.co.uk
Client
ALDI Stores Ltd

August 2015
1. Introduction
1.1   This Planning Support Statement is submitted by Turley, on behalf of ALDI Stores
      Limited, in support of a full planning application for the erection of a Class A1 discount
      foodstore at Station Road, Coleshill.

1.2   The Statement is intended to address the relevant planning policy considerations
      associated with the proposed development, but should be read in conjunction with other
      documents and drawings submitted in support of this application.

      Context

1.3   Whilst the site is located in an out of centre location, the scale of the proposed
      development falls below the threshold for (retail) impact assessment (2,500 sq m)
      identified at Paragraph 26 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Neither
      the adopted Core Strategy nor the ‘saved’ policies of the UDP set a different threshold.
      At the request of the LPA, a proportionate retail impact assessment has been carried
      out, the results of which are addressed in this document. Section 7 of the report
      addresses matters concerning effects on trading patterns and impact on centre vitality
      and viability, based on information gathered from a centre health check.

1.4   A sequential assessment, consistent with the NPPF and National Planning Policy
      Guidance (NPPG) has also been undertaken. The results of the sequential assessment
      are set out in Section 6 of this Statement

1.5   The remainder of this Statement is set out as follows:

      •       Section 2 – Site Context and Proposal;

      •       Section 3 – Planning Policy Context;

      •       Section 4 – Employment Land;

      •       Section 5 – Vitality and Viability Assessment;

      •       Section 6 – Sequential Assessment;

      •       Section 7 – Retail Impact;

      •       Section 8 – Other Planning Matters; and

      •       Section 9 – Summary and Conclusions.

1.6   It should be noted that Section 2 of this Statement sets out in some detail the nature of
      ALDI as an operator in terms of the proposed use and the format of the proposed store.
      This is a material consideration in the Local Planning Authority’s (LPA’s) assessment of
      this planning application. In the case of retail issues, this is particularly relevant to the
      assessment of sequential sites undertaken at Section 6.
2. Site Context and Proposal
      Site Context

2.1   The application site is located on Station Road, to the north of Coleshill town centre.
      The site is located within the defined development boundary, but is considered to be in
      an out of centre location in retail planning policy terms.

2.2   The site, which extends to approximately 0.60 ha, comprises a rectangular shaped
      parcel of previously developed land. It currently comprises two built structures and a
      large area of hardstanding extending to the east. The site was previously occupied by
      the Woodall Transport Group before they relocated (within Coleshill) in January 2014.
      Only the building fronting Station Road remains in active use, occupied by Ortiga
      Communications on a short term let.

2.3   The site is bound by Station Road to the west, employment land uses to the south and
      open grassland to the north and east. The northern, eastern and southern boundaries
      are formed by a 4.0m high security fence. The western boundary is marked by a picket
      fence fronting Station Road. The topography is generally flat and all notable vegetation
      is located adjacent to or beyond the site boundary.

2.4   The surrounding area is characterised by existing employment uses to the north and
      south, and residential to the west. The area to the east is largely open grassland and
      agricultural land, with the River Cole running parallel to the site,

2.5   Access to the site is taken from Station Road. There are existing bus stops situated on
      Station Road, approximately 170m and 200m north of the site entrance for the
      southbound and northbound bus stops respectively. Pedestrian footways are located
      along the western side of Station Road, and in part, along its eastern side. Coleshill
      Parkway Station is located approximately 1.1km north of the site,

      Proposal

2.6   The application proposes the erection of a 1,735 sq m gross Class A1 discount
      foodstore (1,140 sqm net) with ancillary storage, servicing and staff areas and a
      dedicated delivery bay and unloading area. The proposals also include a modified
      vehicular access from Station Road.

2.7   The scheme provides parking for 87 vehicles, including six parent and child spaces and
      six designated spaces for disabled users. Cycle parking (via Sheffield style stands) will
      also be provided near the front of the store.

2.8   The loading bay is located at the southern side of the store. The loading bay is located
      below the store floor level, which allows stock to be unloaded from the back of the
      vehicle directly into the warehouse at the same level. This speeds up the process and
      minimises vehicle movements and noise. Waste will be compacted within the internal
      warehouse and will be returned via the delivery vehicles.
2.9    Hard and soft landscaping is also proposed within the scheme, with new trees and low
       level planting (consistent with the nature of the site) provided throughout the site and at
       the edge of the car parking areas.

       The Store Operator - ALDI

2.10   The Company’s aim is to provide high-quality products at discounted prices and within a
       pleasant shopping environment. Since arriving in the UK at the start of the 1990’s ALDI
       has persistently sought to overcome various negative perceptions associated with
       discount food operators, and have now reached the stage where their simple value for
       money philosophy is widely understood and accepted. ALDI does not necessarily sell
       goods at the lowest possible prices, but rather retail the highest quality goods at the
       lowest possible prices. Discounted prices are generally achieved through bulk buying
       and economies of scale, limiting the number of lines offered and concentrating on own
       label products and maximising efficiency in the operation of the stores.

2.11   Prices are not lower because the quality of goods sold is reduced. Indeed, ALDI
       regularly receive widespread recognition of the quality of the own label products,
       regularly winning awards including, ‘Which?’ Supermarket of the Year, ‘The Grocers’ –
       Discounter of the Year and various blind tasting tests.

       ALDI Trading Policy

2.12   ALDI’s function is as a supermarket that can act as either a bulk food shop destination
       or a ‘top-up’ shopping convenience store. The emphasis is, however, on providing for
       those wishing to carry out a basic weekly shop, which most frequently (according to
       most shopping surveys) involves use of the private car. Through their unique retail offer
       (involving primarily own label products) ALDI stores also contribute to enhancing the
       overall range and choice of convenience goods available within their catchments.

2.13   ALDI stores are modest-scale supermarkets, selling a deliberately restricted product
       range consisting of approximately 1,500 lines. This is limited in comparison with other
       grocery stores and supermarkets, which normally carry anything between 2,500 and
       40,000 product lines, with some superstores carrying up to 60,000 lines. This is the
       result of ALDI not stocking numerous types of one product (e.g. petfood, bread ranges
       etc), but rather providing one line (and most often one size) of a given product within an
       overall range that is carefully chosen to reflect the everyday essentials of the weekly
       shop.

2.14   This limited selection of goods includes:

       •     pre-packed seasonal fruit and vegetable lines;

       •     general tinned, bottled and pre-packed groceries;

       •     frozen and chilled goods;

       •     beers, wines and spirits;

       •     pre-packed bread, morning goods and cakes;
•     a limited everyday range of non-food household items.

2.15   ALDI sell only a limited range of branded goods, which are only sold when, in ALDI’s
       opinion, the brand offer cannot be ‘bettered’. Local and regional sourcing of products,
       particularly for fresh produce and bakery goods, is an important element within the
       range.

2.16   ALDI do not sell cigarettes or lottery tickets and stock only a small range of branded
       wines and spirits, as well as a limited range of breadlines and a small number of boxed
       cakes. The ALDI store format does not include a specialist butcher, fishmonger, bakery,
       delicatessen or chemist, which are commonplace with larger supermarket chains.

2.17   This is an important distinction with ALDI and crucial to understanding how stores
       operate. This means that, unlike larger supermarket formats, ALDI does not offer a
       ‘one-stop-shop’. When shopping at ALDI, customers will therefore also have to visit
       other shops and services to complete their shopping trip. Stores also have only a
       limited amount of non-food floorspace (around 20%), which mostly contains weekly
       specials. This is a further difference to larger supermarkets, which can have between
       30%-50% non-food floorspace.

2.18   On this basis, ALDI complements, rather than competes with, existing local traders and
       generates considerable propensity for linked trips and associated spin-off trade. Store
       opening hours are also more limited than traditional convenience shops/newsagents,
       which further limits direct competition with such outlets.

2.19   In this way, the introduction of an ALDI offers considerable benefits to the areas a new
       store will serve, increasing spin-off trade as well providing as physical and economic
       regeneration. Stores will not only increase main food shopping choice in a locality
       generally but, by providing an accessible store offering unrivalled value for money, will
       specifically help those members of the local community on restricted budgets.

       Merchandising Layout, Parking & Store Equipment

2.20   A tried and tested store format is crucial to the ALDI business model. This has been
       developed by the enables the Company to enable goods to be handled, displayed and
       sold efficiently, thus enabling stores to effectively compete and provide the award
       winning offer. Store layouts are eminently practical and reflect the Company philosophy
       of offering unrivalled value for money through cost effective management. Whilst the
       ambient internal shopping environment is high quality, there is no unnecessary
       expenditure on elaborate shop fittings with resultant savings being reflected in low
       prices.

2.21   Merchandise is sensibly displayed in specially designed cases to eliminate stocking time
       and allow easy and efficient re-stocking. ALDI make enormous efficiency gains in this
       area and pass these directly to the customer. Goods themselves are unloaded directly
       into the store (approximately 2-3 deliveries per day) via a dock leveller and can be
       transferred directly to the shop floor to go on display.

2.22   The internal store layout and operation has been designed to be efficient and practical
       for use by customers; these matters are routinely reviewed and monitored and
adjustments made to the model as required. Retail is, of course, a constantly evolving
       and dynamic sector and ALDI are committed to improving operations and shopping
       experience to meet the demands and expectations of customers.

2.23   Features included to facilitate this are:

       •     long till conveyors that hold a customer’s full shop so as to allow goods to be
             unloaded, scanned and then packed quickly by customers.

       •     level store access, automatic entrance doors, and wide aisles and checkouts for
             easy access by all (the design and layout of new ALDI stores also complies with
             the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act).

       •     gondolas and shelving that allow goods to be easily reached.

       •     weekday store opening hours of 8am-10pm, and Sunday opening times to enable
             general flexibility in choice of shopping (within Sunday trading laws).

2.24   It is the above core philosophy that underpins ALDI’s operator model and is fundamental
       to their store development and profitability. Both the Company’s stores and their
       distribution warehouses are laid out to reflect the internal shop layout, which ensures
       efficient loading, unloading and stocking of shelves. This requires a consistent
       floorspace proportion and layout regardless of store location.

2.25   Although the Company has developed stores of different sizes since arriving in the UK,
       with the newer stores being larger than the early generation stores, all ALDI stores have
       a consistent proportion and layout. Aldi strives to ensure that all of the stores can stock
       the full range of goods (and the Company are currently undertaking a programme of
       extending their smaller stores), although the amount of circulation space within some of
       the smaller stores is reduced. The key factor is that each store displays its range of
       goods in the same way and this is a fundamental efficiency factor in the operation which
       enables prices to be kept very low.

2.26   Stores are required to have adjacent car parking facilities. In particular, customers
       wishing to undertake a ‘weekly’ shopping trip, or those purchasing large and heavy
       items, and less able-bodied customers, must have the opportunity to take their goods
       home by car irrespective of the accessibility of the store location via sustainable modes
       of transport.

2.27   ALDI recognises the need for flexibility in promoting sites for development and pursue
       non-standard stores where this will assist in meeting planning policy requirements.
       When considering the scope for flexibility, however, the inherent nature of ALDI’s
       operation as a discount food retailer must be borne in mind. Accordingly, there are a
       number of key areas where it is not possible to alter the core design of the store; as to
       do so would undermine the operational efficiency of the business and hence its viability.

2.28   Specific areas of the design and layout of an ALDI store are as follows:

       •     Retail sales area: this is the most critical aspect of store building design. A
             1,140sq m floor area is required to provide approximately 1,500 product lines, and
the dimensions of the retail area are determined by the need to ensure that
    adequate and consistent product display space is provided. The retail sales area
    is also specifically designed to enable efficient transfer of products (it has been
    demonstrated that a rectangular store design is necessary for appropriate stock
    transfer, retail display and security). In view of its central importance to the trading
    and operational success of ALDI’s business, the size and proportions of the net
    retail floor area is the area where it is not possible for ALDI to depart from their
    core design as to do so would undermine trading viability.

•   Storage and ancillary non-retail floorspace: where the size and shape of a
    particular site requires less than optimal configuration, ALDI can exhibit some
    flexibility, such as the location of the service pod and size of the storage area,
    although in all cases adequate levels of storage will be required.

•   Urban design: ALDI recognises that the external appearance of its buildings
    needs to respond to their design context. In appropriate circumstances ALDI is
    able to be flexible regarding siting, the exterior design and external finishes.

•   Parking: ALDI is committed to ensuring that its stores are accessible by a variety
    of modes of transport and seek to locate stores where they are accessible to
    pedestrians and by public transport. In recognition of the fact that most
    customers will wish to travel by car, and that many customers visit ALDI to carry
    out a weekly shop, ALDI normally seeks parking provision in line with local
    parking standards, subject to maintaining overall store viability.
3. Planning Policy Context
3.1   This Section provides a summary of the key elements of national planning guidance and
      local planning policy relevant to the proposed retail development at the application site.

3.2   The Development Plan comprises the ‘saved’ policies of the North Warwickshire Local
      Plan (2006) and the North Warwickshire Core Strategy (2014), The ‘saved’ policies of
      the Local Plan can only be afforded such weight as is appropriate to their degree of
      consistency with the NPPF (Paragraph 215 of Annex 1 of the NPPF). We have
      therefore considered the local policy context on this basis. Consideration has also been
      given to the emerging North Warwickshire Site Allocations Plan.

      National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012)

3.3   The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27 March 2012 and
      forms the planning framework for England. The NPPF superseded the previous national
      policy tier comprising PPS/PPG/MPG (as well as Circular 05/2005 and some Chief
      Planning Officer letters). The NPPF should be given significant weight in the
      assessment of this planning application.

      Presumption in Favour

3.4   A ‘Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development’ is central to the NPPF.
      Paragraph 14 of the NPPF states that:

      “At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of
      sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through
      both plan-making and decision-taking.”

3.5   Paragraph 14 of the NPPF requires that for decision-taking this means:

      •      approving development proposals that accord with the development plan without
             delay; and

      •      where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date,
             granting permission unless:

      •      any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh
             the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a
             whole; or

      •      specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.

3.6   For plan-making this means that:

      •      local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the
             development needs of their area;
•       Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to
               adapt to rapid change, unless:

       •       any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh
               the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a
               whole; or

       •       specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.”

       Retail Guidance

3.7    National policy applying to proposals involving retail development is set out at
       Paragraphs 23-27 of the NPPF.

3.8    Paragraph 24 of the NPPF confirms that (in line with PPS4, now superseded) Local
       Authorities should apply a ‘sequential test’ to planning applications for main town centre
       uses that are not in an existing centre and are not in accordance with an up-to-date
       Local Plan. Such proposals are required to be located in town centres, then edge-of-
       centre locations, and only if suitable sites are not available should out-of-centre sites be
       considered. The NPPF advises that in considering edge and out-of-centre sites,
       preference should be given to sites that are accessible and well connected to the town
       centre.

3.9    Town centres are defined in the NPPF as city, town, district and local centres, but
       exclude small parades of shops of purely neighbourhood significance. The relevant
       area is to be defined on the Local Authority proposals map, including the Primary
       Shopping Area (PSA) and areas predominantly occupied by main town centre uses
       within or adjacent to the PSA.

3.10   Paragraph 26 of the NPPF confirms that when assessing retail proposals outside town
       centres, local planning authorities should require an impact assessment if the
       development is over a proportionate, locally set floorspace threshold. If there is no
       threshold, the NPPF confirms that the default threshold is 2,500 sq m. The adopted
       Core Strategy does not set its own threshold.

3.11   Where impact assessments are required, policy relating to retail impact has been
       simplified in the NPPF to reference two criteria only:

       •     The impact on existing, committed or planned public and private investment in a
             centre, or centres, in the catchment area; and

       •     The impact on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice
             and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to 5 years from the time the
             application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised
             in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time
             the application is made.

3.12   To inform the Council’s consideration of this application, a proportionate updated retail
       impact assessment has been undertaken.
Economic Development Guidance

3.13   The NPPF (at Annex 2) defines economic development as:

        “Development, including those within the B Use Classes, public and community uses
       and main town centre uses (but excluding housing development)”.

3.14   This means that the NPPF recognises the contribution of retail development to
       economic growth and employment creation and, importantly, does not seek to make a
       distinction between employment arising from retail development and ‘traditional’
       employment arising from B-class uses.

3.15   As such, it follows that the third ‘core planning principle’ set out at Paragraph 17 of the
       NPPF is applicable to retail development as well as other types of development falling
       under the heading of economic development. That core planning principle states that
       the planning system should “proactively drive and support sustainable economic
       development to deliver the homes, business and industrial units, infrastructure and
       thriving local places that the country needs”. As well as being required to objectively
       identify the level of need for development and then to meet those needs, LPA’s are
       required to “respond positively to wider opportunities for growth”.

3.16   The theme of government support for development that achieves economic growth is
       reinforced in Paragraphs 18 to 20 of the NPPF which relate to the building of a strong,
       competitive economy.

3.17   In respect of land proposed for employment use, Paragraph 22 states that:

       “Planning policies should avoid the long term protection of sites allocated for
       employment use where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for that
       purpose. Land allocations should be regularly reviewed. Where there is no reasonable
       prospect of a site being used for the allocated employment use, applications for
       alternative uses of land or buildings should be treated on their merits having regard to
       market signals and the relative need for different land uses to support sustainable local
       communities.”

       Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG)

3.18   The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) confirms that when applying the
       sequential test in decision-taking, due regard must be paid to the requirement
       demonstrate flexibility. The NPPG also confirms that the impact test should be
       undertaken in a proportionate and locally appropriate way. As a guiding principle,
       impact should also be assessed on a like-for-like basis in respect of that particular
       sector as retail uses tend to compete with their most comparable competitive facilities.

       Development Plan

3.19   The Development Plan comprises the adopted Core Strategy (2014), together with
       ‘saved’ policies from the adopted Local Plan (2006). A Site Allocations Plan will also
       form part of the North Warwickshire Local Plan (formerly the Local Development
       Framework). The Pre-Submission Site Allocations Plan was consulted on in June 2014.
Once adopted the Site Allocations Plan will replace the ‘preferred allocated sites’ from
       the saved Local Plan.

       North Warwickshire Core Strategy (2014)

3.20   Section 4 of the Core Strategy sets out nine Strategic Objectives. Other policies in the
       Core Strategy are intended to flow from these objectives. Strategic Objective 1 aims to
       “secure a sustainable pattern of development reflecting the rural character of the
       Borough”. To do so, priority will be given to:

       “re-using previously developed land and buildings within Market Towns and Local
       Service Centres, recognising regeneration opportunities; as well as reducing the overall
       need to travel, limiting exposure to flood risk and protecting the Borough’s
       environmental character”.

3.21   Strategic Objective 4 aims to “maintain and improve the vitality of the Market Towns”.
       This will be achieved by making the best use of land and buildings, facilitating
       regeneration and building on their historic strengths.

3.22   Policy NW1 sets out the Council’s approach to following the presumption in favour of
       sustainable development. It states that planning applications that accord with the
       policies of the Core Strategy will be approved without delay, unless material
       considerations indicate otherwise. Where there are no relevant policies, or the policies
       are out of date, the Council will grant permission unless material considerations indicate
       otherwise.

3.23   Paragraph 2.3 of the Core Strategy recognises the importance of Coleshill as one of
       three market towns in North Warwickshire. It notes that it is important to the health of
       the surrounding rural economy as it provides many services and facilities to the outlying
       hinterland.

3.24   This is reflected in Policy NW2, which sets out the settlement hierarchy for North
       Warwickshire, identifying Coleshill as a ‘Category 2’ settlement – Green Belt Market
       Town. The policy states that

       ““Within the development boundary of Coleshill, the Green Belt Market Town,
       development for employment, housing (including affordable housing), services and other
       facilities will be permitted.”

3.25   Paragraph 6.7 states that retail proposals will “be expected to accord with the settlement
       hierarchy and be proportionate to the size and scale of the settlement”.

3.26   Policy NW9 states that “all employment land will be protected unless it can be
       demonstrated that there is no realistic prospect of the site being used for employment
       purposes. Evidence would need to demonstrate that:

       o   The site is no longer commercially viable; and

       o   It has been marketed for an appropriate period of time, usually no less than 12
           months; and
o   There are no alternative employment uses that could use the site.”

3.27   Paragraph 7.40 of the Core Strategy does, however, recognise that existing
       employment land cannot always be protected from alternative uses. It continues by
       stating that proposals for a change of use from employment uses (Class B) to non-
       employment uses should be supported by evidence to show that the existing buildings
       and land are not suitable or cannot be viably reused for another employment use.

3.28   Policy NW10 sets out the main development considerations that should be met,
       including:

       •     Be targeted at using brownfield land in appropriate locations reflecting the
             settlement hierarchy.

       •     Provide for proper vehicular access, sufficient parking and manoeuvring of
             vehicles.

       •     Encourage sustainable forms of transport focusing on pedestrian access and
             provision of bike facilities.

       •     Avoid and address unacceptable impacts upon neighbouring amenities.

3.29   Policy NW11 states that new development will be expected to be energy efficient in
       terms of its fabric and use. Major development will be required to provide a minimum of
       10% of its operational energy requirements from a renewable energy source subject to
       viability.

3.30   Policy NW12 sets out five factors development must respond to in order to deliver
       quality development.

3.31   Policy NW13 states that the quality, character and local distinctiveness of the natural
       environment will be protected and enhanced.

3.32   Policy NW15 relates to nature conservation and states that development should help
       ensure that there is a net gain of biodiversity and geological interest by avoiding adverse
       impacts first, then providing appropriate mitigation measures and finally seeking positive
       enhancements wherever possible.

3.33   Policy NW17 relates to economic regeneration, stating that “the delivery of employment
       generating uses, including the redevelopment of existing employment sites and farm
       diversification, should reflect the need to broaden the employment base, improve
       employment choice and opportunities for local people.”

3.34   Policy NW20 states that proposals that would have a detrimental impact on the viability
       and vitality of town centres will not be permitted. Town centres will be the focus for new
       retail development.

3.35   Paragraph 7.92 of the Core Strategy states that “retail uses will be focussed towards the
       Market Towns to help maintain their viability and vitality”.
North Warwickshire Local Plan (2006)

3.36   The adopted Core Strategy supersedes some of the policies contained in the adopted
       Local Plan (2006). The following ‘saved’ policies are, however, relevant to the
       consideration of this planning application.

3.37   A number of policies relating to the natural and built environment remain ‘saved’. These
       relate to trees and hedgerows (Policy ENV4), safeguarding water resources and
       protecting development from floodwater (Policy ENV8), air quality (Policy ENV9), urban
       design (Policy ENV12), building design (Policy ENV13) and access design (Policy
       ENV14).

3.38   Policy ECON1 identifies a number of existing industrial estates that are designated for
       local employment purposes, including Coleshill Industrial Estate. The policy states that
       the quantum of development arising from any expansion, conversion or redevelopment
       of existing premises will be limited to that provided for by Classes B and D (Part 8,
       Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order
       1995.

3.39   Policy ECON3 states that existing employment sites and buildings within the
       development boundaries of the Market Towns will be retained for employment purposes,
       unless:

       •     Redevelopment or reuse is proposed as a mixed use scheme within a defined
             town centre; or

       •     There would be no negative impact on the range and quality of employment sites
             available in the settlement concerned.

3.40   The above policies were conceived in a context where there was deemed to be an
       ‘oversupply’ of employment land within the Borough relative to requirements set out in
       the Warwickshire Structure Plan (now rescinded). They were also prepared in the
       context of an evidence base dating from 2001. These factors limit the weight that can be
       afforded to these policies.

3.41   Paragraph 5.30 of the Local Plan recognises that the retention of suitable sites for
       continued employment use should not be perceived as an obstacle to redevelopment
       and/or the qualitative improvement of such sites. It continues by stating that the Council
       encourages redevelopment and improvement of sites within the constraint of not adding
       to the supply of employment land.

3.42   Paragraph 5.31 states that it is not the intention of Policy ECON3 to retain all
       employment sites within the development boundaries of the Main Towns, the Green Belt
       Market Town and Local Service Centres. It is recognised that there may be instances
       where the loss of an employment use would not have a harmful impact on the portfolio
       of sites available in a particular settlement, or where the site may be better suited to
       meet an identified need for community facilities or services.

3.43   Policy ECON5 states that proposals for additional retail floorspace will only be permitted
       if they are located within the town centre boundary and are less than 1,000 sq m. Given
that the Council currently has no up-to-date retail evidence base the requirement for
       retail units to be less than 1,000 sq m must be given limited weight.

3.44   Policy TPT1 requires the submission of a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan to
       support applications for new food retail uses over 1,000 sq m. Other transportation
       matters covered by the ‘saved’ policies include, traffic management and travel safety
       (Policy TPT2), access and sustainable travel and transport (Policy TPT3), public
       transport improvements (Policy TPT4) and parking (Policy TPT6).

       Emerging North Warwickshire Local Plan

3.45   The adopted Core Strategy forms part of the wider emerging Local Plan. As part of this
       process, the Council consulted on the Pre-Submission Site Allocations Plan in June
       2014. This plan seeks to identify sites consistent with meeting the requirements set out
       in the adopted Core Strategy.

3.46   Paragraph 2.7 states that areas such as the Station Road/Gorsey Lane employment
       estates “will continue to be identified and protected for employment uses”.       The
       emerging Development Management Policies document will not, however, identify these
       areas as ‘allocated employment’ sites as they have already been developed. Control
       will be applied over their potential redevelopment for both employment and other uses
       such as housing.

3.47   Policy EMP1 states that the existing employment sites identified on the Proposals Map
       will be safeguarded for general employment uses, including Classes B1, 2 & 8. It
       continues by stating that redevelopment proposals for non-employment related
       development will be resisted unless clear evidence and justification is provided that:

       •     the redevelopment proposed is appropriate; and

       •     the loss of the employment use/land will not impact detrimentally on choice,
             availability and the economic viability/vitality, character and well-being of the
             employment estate.

       Retail Evidence Base

3.48   There is no independent Borough–wide retail study forming the Council’s retail evidence
       base. There is, however, reference on the Council’s website to a ‘Planning Policy and
       Retail Appraisal’ report relating to Coleshill prepared by Roger Tym and Partners (RTP)
       in April 2009. This was prepared on behalf of Limes Developments Limited in
       connection with a proposed edge-of-centre foodstore on land at Birmingham Road and
       Park Road, Coleshill. The store was granted planning permission in June 2010 (LPA
       ref: PAP/2009/0154) and is currently occupied by a 1,007 sq m net Morrison’s
       supermarket. The RTP assessment is more than five years’ old and of limited relevance
       as a basis for assessing the ALDI store proposal at Station Road. It also relates to a
       specific proposal and therefore cannot be considered as an evidence base to underpin
       the retail policies of the development plan.
4. Employment Land
4.1   The application site forms part of a large mixed industrial estate located on the northern
      edge of Coleshill. The industrial estate, which is centred on Station Road and Gorsey
      Lane, is located within the defined ‘development boundary’ and is identified as an
      ‘existing employment area’ on the adopted Local Plan Proposals Map.

4.2   Given the existing use and location of the application site, it is necessary to consider the
      proposals against the relevant policies contained in the adopted Local Plan and Core
      Strategy. As set out in Section 3 of this Statement, relevant policies include Policy NW9
      and NW17 of the Core Strategy and Policy ECON3 of the adopted Local Plan.

4.3   Policy NW9 states that employment land will be ‘protected’ unless it can be
      demonstrated that there is no realistic prospect of the site being used for employment
      purposes. Evidence is required to demonstrate that the site is no longer commercially
      viable; it has been marketed for an appropriate period of time; and there are no
      alternative employment uses that could use the site. Paragraph 7.40 of the Core
      Strategy does, however, recognise that employment land cannot always be protected
      from alternative uses.

4.4   Policy ECON3 of the adopted Local Plan states that existing employment sites within
      the development boundary of Coleshill will be retained for employment purposes unless:

      •     Redevelopment or re-use is proposed as a mixed use scheme within a defined
            town centre; or

      •     there would be no negative impact on the range or quality of employment sites
            available in the settlement concerned.

4.5   Paragraph 5.31 of the Local Plan establishes that it is not the intention of Policy ECON3
      to retain all employment sites within the development boundary of Coleshill. It continues
      by stating that there may be cases where the loss of an employment use would not have
      a harmful impact on the portfolio of sites available in a particular settlement, or where
      the site may be better suited to meet an identified need for community facilities or
      services.

4.6   Reference to the North Warwickshire Employment Land Review Update (September
      2013) establishes that the application site forms part of a wider industrial estate that
      extends to approximately 63.78 ha. The ELR Update notes that the industrial estate
      includes a wide range of accommodation, from larger warehouse units to smaller
      industrial units and small office suites. It continues by stating that “the size, type and
      quality of the premises vary considerably”.

4.7   Whilst the wider estate is identified as being generally successful, the ELR Update notes
      that “there is a level of vacancies of 10-20%, mainly amongst the older premises”.
      Given the high vacancy levels, the ELR Update notes that older stock “would benefit
      from investment in refurbishment or redevelopment”. The application site itself is
      located on Station Road and comprises relatively small scale industrial/office buildings
      and a large area of hardstanding. The application site is older stock lesser quality.
4.8    The site accommodated the Woodall Transport Group until the business relocated in
       January 2014. The previous occupant has advised that the business relocated due to
       limitations of the application site to accommodate modern industrial/distribution uses.
       Concerns included the age and quality of the existing buildings, limited warehousing
       space and the ability to operate a 24 hour distribution business in close proximity to
       residential uses. Woodall Transport Group remained within Coleshill, relocating to
       Gorsey Lane.

4.9    The limitation of the application site for modern Class B employment uses is illustrated
       by the relocation of the Woodall Transport Group. It also demonstrates that the
       variation in quality of stock within the wider Coleshill Industrial Estate. Following the
       relocation of the previous occupier, the majority of the application site has remained
       vacant. During this 20 month period it has only been possible to let one of the existing
       buildings on a short term basis. The current occupier is, however, due to relocate to
       new premises.

4.10   Returning to the relevant adopted Core Strategy and Local Plan policies, it is clear that
       there is a considerable amount of alternative local quality employment land within the
       Coleshill Industrial Estate, Gorsey Lane and Station Road area. As such, the loss of the
       application site to retail use will have no negative impact on the range or quality of
       employment sites available to meet the future needs for industrial development within
       Coleshill or North Warwickshire.

4.11   The application site itself comprises poor quality, older stock, and is vacant with the
       exception of one building let on a short term basis. The ELR Update establishes that
       the stock within the wider industrial estate is of varied quality, with vacancy levels
       reaching 10-20% for older premises. This reflects the difficulties of letting older, poorer
       quality stock such as the application site.

4.12   The definition of ‘economic development’ in the NPPF (Annex 2) should also be taken
       into account when considering the acceptability of redeveloping the site for retail uses.
       The NPPF recognises the important contribution of retail development to economic
       growth and employment creation. Importantly, the NPPF makes no distinction between
       employment arising from retail development and ‘traditional’ employment arising from
       Class B uses.

4.13    The policies of the adopted Local Plan and Core Strategy refer to retaining existing
       sites for ‘employment purposes’. In doing so, it should be recognised that retail
       development constitutes an employment use and is an important form of job creation.
       This is demonstrated by the number of jobs expected to be generated by the new Aldi
       foodstore – up to 40 new jobs, of which around 35 positions will be locally sourced. This
       compares favourably to the number of staff currently employed at the site, which is
       approximately 10 people. It is also relevant that the proposals will require around 100
       construction operatives during the construction phase.

4.14   Policy NW17 of the adopted Core Strategy relates to economic regeneration, referring
       specifically to ‘the delivery of employment generating uses’. National planning guidance
       makes it clear that retail uses should be classed as valuable ‘employment generating
       uses’.
4.15   In conclusion, the application proposals will have no harmful impact on the portfolio of
       sites available in Coleshill, would result in considerable investment in an existing
       brownfield site within the defined development boundary and will generate up to 40 new
       jobs. The development will result in an older, lesser quality Class B employment site,
       being brought back into a commercially viable employment generating use – thereby
       contributing to the economic regeneration of the area in line with Policy NW17. The loss
       of the application site from Class B employment uses to a retail foodstore is therefore
       considered acceptable.
5. Vitality and Viability Assessment
5.1   To assist in determining the likely economic impact of the proposed development, this
      section of the report establishes the baseline health of the defined centres within the
      agreed catchment area, namely:

      •       Coleshill Town Centre; and

      •       Water Orton Local Centre;

      Coleshill Town Centre

5.2   Coleshill is identified as one of three market towns in the Borough. The defined town
      centre boundary is centred around High Street and Church Hill. The ‘Core Shopping
      Frontage’ is focused solely on the High Street.

      Diversity of Uses

5.3   The defined town centre comprises a mix of comparison and convenience retail,
      together with a range of other complementary service uses. There are also a number of
      food and beverage uses including cafes, restaurants, public houses and takeaways.

5.4   Table 5.1 (below) identifies the mix of retail and service uses found in Coleshill in June
      2015.

      Table 5.1:     Diversity of Uses

      Use                    No. of Units          %

      A1 convenience         2                     3.39

      A1 comparison          17                    28.81

      Services               20                    33.89

      Vacant                 1                     1.69

      Other                  19                    32.20

      Total                  59                    100

5.5   As Table 5.1 demonstrates, the total number of retail units within the district centre in
      June 2015 totalled 59. The centre offers a good range of facilities across the
      convenience, comparison and service sectors.

5.6   Convenience goods provision is limited to two retail units – The Co-operative and Tesco
      Express. This is below the national average. An edge of centre Morrison’s foodstore is
      located on Birmingham Road/Park Road.
5.7    Comparison good units are reasonably well represented, comprising a reasonable mix
       of independent operators, including various clothing shops, furniture/hardware stores, a
       bike shop, flower shop and gallery.

5.8    Turning to services, Table 5.1 demonstrates that the town possesses a good range of
       other uses for local residents including:

       •     A large number of cafés, restaurants and public houses (Green Man, Swan Hotel,
             Balti Cottage, Indian Lounge, Café & Tea Rooms, Brownies Coffee Shop,
             Coleshill Fish Bar, Rajrani, Conisours Sandwiches, Polash, Tao Tao, L’Maiz)
             June’s Café);

       •     Banks (HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays, The Coventry);

       •     Solicitors (Waters & Co, Garner Canning, Evans Derry) Estate agents (Miller
             Briggs & Co, First Choice Property Centre, House and Home Property Centre,
             Bristow Eves, Waters & Co);

       •     A Post Office;

       •     Hair & Beauty Salons (Miracles, Heads Of Coleshill, Pacific Nails, Blades, Le
             Hair and Beauty, Well Being Therapy Centre);

       •     Medical and Pharmacies (Hazelwood Group Practice, Lloyds Pharmacy)

       •     A library.

5.9    Whilst the centre’s retail offer is considered to be in keeping with a centre of this scale,
       the centre does contain a large number of café//restaurant/takeaway uses and service
       uses.

       Proportion of Vacant Street Level Property

5.10   In June 2015 there was only one vacant unit in Coleshill. This is clearly a low level of
       vacancies.

       Pedestrian Flows and Accessibility

5.11   The High Street is the main shopping area of Coleshill Town Centre. The High Street
       benefits from pedestrian walkways and various forms of pedestrian crossings, which
       makes it relatively easy for pedestrians to navigate through the centre.

5.12   Whilst we are not aware of any recent footfall surveys, it is evident from our own
       observations that Coleshill is relatively busy.

5.13   The public main car parks serving Coleshill are located at Parkfield Road and Church
       Hill. Both are free of charge. Additional parking is also available at the Morrison’s
       supermarket on Birmingham Road/Park Road. Public parking is available for up to three
       hours. From our site visit, these car parks appeared to be well used.
5.14   The town is well served by public transport. Table 5.2 identifies the principal bus
       services running to and from Coleshill.

       Table 5.2:    Coleshill Principal Bus Services

       Number                         From/To                         Frequency

       70                             Birmingham Argos –              2 per hour (Mon to Sat); 1
                                      Solihull (via Coleshill)        per hour (Sun)

       75                             Sutton Coldfield –              1 per hour (Mon to Sat)
                                      Birmingham International

       115                            Tamworth – Coleshill            1 per hour (Mon to Sat)

5.15   Coleshill Parkway Railway Station is located to the north of the town centre.

       Environmental Quality

5.16   The majority of shop fronts are reasonably well maintained and the public realm is
       dominated by pavements that are in reasonable condition and also comprise adequate
       street furniture and bins at regular intervals. The Lych Gate leads to St Peter and St
       Paul’s Church to the rear of the High Street. A large recreational area is situated to the
       west of Parkfield Road.

       Perception of Safety and Occurrence of Crime

5.17   The centre is generally well lit, which enhances the perception of safety for its visitors.

       Summary and Conclusion

5.18   The centre’s retail offer is considered to be in keeping with a centre of this scale and
       there are areas. It is a traditional market town with a good level of environmental quality
       and pedestrian accessibility and low vacancy rate. Overall we conclude that the centre
       is reasonably vital and viable but, like all centres, could benefit from investment.

       Water Orton

5.19   Water Orton is a local centre, focused on a small parade of shops located to the north of
       Birmingham Road. Three additional units are located to the south of Birmingham Road.
       The centre comprises a mix of retail and services uses, and is anchored by a Tesco
       Express. The centre also includes food and drinks and hair/beauty uses. There were
       no vacant units at the time of our site visit (June 2015). The centre benefits from free
       off-street parking and is situated adjacent to the Water Orton train station. At the time of
       visiting the car parking was heavily used.
Conclusion

5.20   In summary, Coleshill Town Centre and Water Orton Local Centre are considered to be
       performing relatively well. It is noted, however, that Coleshill has a relatively limited
       range of convenience retail units within the town centre boundary. We conclude that all
       centres are meeting their roles within the retail hierarchy and are both vital and viable to
       varying degrees.
6. Sequential Assessment
6.1   As set out in Section 3, the NPPF requires LPAs to apply a sequential test to planning
      applications for main town centres uses that are not in an existing centre and are not in
      accordance with an up-to-date Local Plan. A sequential assessment has been
      undertaken for this development proposal given that it proposes a main town centre use
      in an accessible, but ‘out of centre’ location.

      Overview & Approach to Assessment

6.2   The Planning Practice Guidance (Paragraph 010) sets out a checklist that should be
      taken into account in determining whether a proposal complies with the sequential test.
      This is summarised as follows:

      •      “With due regard to the requirement to demonstrate flexibility, has the suitability
            of more central sites to accommodate the need or demand which the proposal is
            intended to meet been considered? Where the proposal would be located in an
            edge of centre or out of centre location, preference should be given to accessible
            sites that are well connected to the town centre. Any associated reasoning
            should be set out clearly;

      •     Is there scope for flexibility in the format and/or scale of the proposal? It is not
            necessary to demonstrate that a potential town centre or edge of centre site can
            accommodate precisely the scale and form of development being proposed, but
            rather to consider what contribution more central sites are able to
            makeindividually to accommodate the proposals;

      •     If there are no suitable sequentially preferable locations, the sequential test is
            passed.”

6.3   In applying the sequential approach, it is therefore important to reflect upon the nature of
      the proposed development. In this case a retail development for a discount foodstore is
      proposed. In considering potential sequentially preferable sites, we have considered the
      proposed format and scale of the development, as well as the scope for disaggregation
      of the scheme, and have taken a flexible and proportionate approach to the amount of
      floorspace and associated back up space, servicing and parking required.

6.4   In considering the sites we have applied the ‘Dundee’ principle to our assessment
      below, and we would emphasise the importance of the meaning of ‘suitable’ from the
      perspective of the applicant, as clearly underlined by this Judgment.

6.5   This case is material to the operation of the sequential approach. This is a decision of
      the Supreme Court (21 March 2012) and as such has currency in England and Wales,
      although it relates on an appeal by Tesco Stores Limited in Scotland. This appeal was
      lodged in relation to a planning permission granted to Asda and MacDonald Estates in
      Dundee.

6.6   Although focusing on the question of deficiency, the case considered the application of
      the sequential test and the meaning of ‘suitable’ in relation to need and alternative sites.
It was held in the Judgment that ‘suitable’ means ‘suitable for the development proposed
       by the applicant’, subject to the qualification that flexibility and realism must be shown by
       developers.

6.7    Reference was made in the decision to another case (Lidl (UKGmbH) v Scottish
       Ministers [2006]), in which Lord Glennie had observed, in relation to the sequential
       approach, that the question to be addressed is whether an alternative site is suitable for
       the proposed development, not whether it can be altered or reduced to fit an alternative
       site. In the case under consideration (the Asda store proposal in Dundee), the
       assessment had not been confined to sites that could accommodate the development in
       the precise form in which it had been designed; but had examined sites that could
       accommodate a smaller development. Hence, it was considered that flexibility had been
       demonstrated by Asda/MacDonald Estates through the application process.

6.8    Indeed, more recent guidance has been issued through other appeal cases that provide
       clarification of the meaning of ‘suitable’. A recent Secretary of State decision (LXB RP
       (Rushden) Limited, 11 June 2014. Ref. APP/G2815/V/12/2190175) emphasises that the
       ‘suitability’ of alternative sites must be considered in terms of the development proposed
       by the applicant and whether it can be accommodated on an alternative site.

6.9    This decision clarifies that the Dundee decision “expressly rejected the notion that
       ‘suitable’ means that one should alter or reduce the proposal so as to fit onto an
       alternative site” (Inspector’s Report, paragraph 8.44). The decision also confirms that “if
       a site is not suitable for the commercial requirements of the developer in question then it
       is not a suitable site for the purposes of the sequential approach” and that “the question
       is whether the alternative site is suitable for the proposed development, not whether the
       proposed development could be altered or reduced so that it can be made to fit the
       alternative site.” (Inspector’s emphasis) (Inspector’s Report, paragraph 8.45).

6.10   The proposal seeks to provide a retail development to enhance the retail offer of the
       existing area. The proposal will provide retail floorspace in a format that is not available
       within the town centre and will improve the retail offer, competition, and choice. An
       alternative location would not achieve the same aims and would be ‘unsuitable’ for this
       reason; this is a material issue applying the principles established in the Dundee and
       Rushden cases (see above).

6.11   Notwithstanding the above, we have adopted a flexible approach and considered more
       central sites/units. Our search has focussed on Coleshill and Water Orton and the
       parameters for the assessment are set out below.

       Sequential Assessment - Parameters

6.12   In relation to site characteristics, the principal assessment parameters are:

       •     Availability – whether sites are available now or are likely to become available for
             development within a reasonable period of time (determined on the merits of a
             particular case, having regard to, amongst other matters, the applicant’s suitability
             criteria and timescales).
•     Suitability – with due regard to the requirements to demonstrate flexibility,
             whether sites are suitable to accommodate the proposal.

       •     Viability – whether there is a reasonable prospect that development will occur on
             the site at a particular point in time. Again, the importance of demonstrating the
             viability of alternatives depends in part on the nature of the proposal and the
             timescale over which the applicant requires it to be delivered.

6.13   Whilst ‘viability’ is not expressly referenced by the NPPF in relation to planning
       applications, it is cited as a relevant consideration in the allocation of sites. It is our view
       that viability remains relevant to the consideration of whether sites are ‘suitable’ (for
       completeness we have therefore included viability within our consideration of
       sequentially preferable sites).

6.14   The above parameters provide a robust and policy-compliant basis for assessment.

       Relevant Sites

6.15   Turley has reviewed both in centre and edge of centre opportunity sites that could be
       feasibly considered to be sequentially preferable to the application site, in the light of the
       parameters set out above. This exercise has been undertaken in relation to Coleshill
       Town Centre and Water Orton Local Centre.

       Coleshill Town Centre

6.16   From our observations in June 2015, there is currently only one vacant retail unit within
       the defined Coleshill Town Centre. This unit, with a groundfloor retail area of 27.59 sq
       m, is clearly too small to accommodate the floorspace proposed by ALDI.

6.17   No other sites were observed within the defined town centre that were either available or
       large enough to accommodate the development proposals. Two sites were identified
       outside of the defined centre, but within close proximity to the existing Morrisons store:

       •     The former Coleshill Leisure Centre, Park Road

       •     The former Warwickshire Police Station, Birmingham Road

6.18   It is understood that the former Coleshill Police Station is now under offer and is
       therefore not available.   Notwithstanding this, the site is not large enough to
       accommodate the proposed development.

6.19   The former Coleshill Leisure Centre is understood to be available for development. The
       site, however, extends to 0.31ha and is therefore not considered large enough to
       accommodate the proposed development.

       Water Orton Local Centre

6.20   The settlement hierarchy set out in the adopted Core Strategy identifies Water Orton as
       a Local Service Centre (Green Belt) (Category 3B). The main retail and service uses
       are centred on the Station Buildings on Birmingham Road. From our observations in
June 2015, there are currently no vacant units in the main commercial area. Similarly,
       we did not observe any sites either in, or on the edge of, the centre, which were either
       available or large enough to accommodate the proposed development. The centre is
       hemmed in by a railway line to the north and existing uses (predominantly residential) to
       the west, east and south. Opportunities to extend the development boundary are also
       constrained by the Green Belt, which surrounds Water Orton.

6.21   It is therefore concluded that there are no opportunities to accommodate the proposed
       development in Water Orton.

       Sequential Assessment Conclusions

6.22   Having visited and reviewed the defined centres, we were unable to identify any sites
       within or at the edge of these centres that could meet the needs of the proposed store.

6.23   As such, by this assessment, we consider that compliance with the sequential test can
       be demonstrated.
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