On behalf of Hinton Properties, the planning team at Ridge were instructed to provide planning advice and project management for a development of 5,000 sqm of commercial office space, a day nursery, 1,750 sqm Aldi food retail unit and a Costa Coffee retail unit with associated landscaping parking and infrastructure works. Outline planning permission was sought for an additional 8,000 sqm of commercial office space.
The appeal site comprised 4.15 ha of former agricultural land off Grovefield Way, Cheltenham. Situated adjacent to the recently completed prestige BMW showroom, the permission of which was also obtained by the planning team at Ridge, the site was formerly included within the Green Belt.
The planning team at Ridge provided initial planning advice on planning strategy which progressed to preparation, submission and project management of a hybrid application for full and outline planning permission, which included public consultation. During the application a number of positive amendments were made in response to local feedback, and Council planning officers recommended the application for approval at committee. However, despite Officer’s recommendation for approval, the application was refused by committee following significant pressure from local action groups.
Following the refusal, the Ridge team prepared and submitted an appeal which led the council to withdraw one of its reasons for refusal relating to traffic congestion at the early stages of the appeal. The main issue was whether the balance between B1 office use and non B1 uses, including retail, would be acceptable having regard to the development plan. The expert witnesses from the Ridge team provided evidence at the Inquiry which opened in January 2019 and sat for 5 days. The Inspector found the proposed proportion of non-B1 use did not conflict with the adopted development plan policy’s aim to promote employment in general and B1 office jobs in particular. It was concluded that the proposals would therefore comply with the relevant adopted and emerging planning policies.
On behalf of the appellant, an application for costs was submitted by the Ridge planning team. This application was successful and costs were awarded against the Council on the grounds that it was inconsistent and behaved unreasonably in refusing the scheme. The Inspector concluded that this would have been difficult to understand for the appellant and involved unnecessary expense in dealing with this matter at the Inquiry.
For a copy of the decision notices please click on the links below.