Friday, December 6, 2013
Controversial plans for a fourth Co-op store in Exmouth have been given the green light.
A bid by the Southern Co-operative Group to convert Staddons Garage on Exeter Road into a 3,014sq ft convenience store, was rubberstamped because there were ‘no grounds’ to refuse it.
Last month East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) planning committee could not decide whether to approve the application - so on Friday they paid the site a visit.
At the subsequent planning inspection committee at Exmouth Town Hall, EDDC senior planner Nigel Barrett said that if the plans were refused it had to be on planning grounds.
He said that changes to the plan had allayed the council’s previous road safety concerns.
And it was ruled that a new store would not be detrimental to surrounding homes or to town centre businesses.
Under EDDC planning policy the preferred sites for new businesses is the town centre.
New businesses outside the town centre can be refused planning permission if they are judged that they will harms the town’s economy.
But Mr Barrett said that the store was ‘too small’ to have an impact.
Councillor Mark Williamson said: “I do think it is somewhat unneighbourly to allow deleiveries after 9pm.
“But to try and challenge this without a robust evidence base (is futile).
“We are not capable of challenging the transport assessment of county highways.
“We simply don’t have those resources.”
Cllr Geoff Pook said: “It will take £1.6million out of the area.
“We are going to lose a social hub, a neighbourhood area and we are going to lose a Post Office.”
Deputy chairman of the committee Cllr David Key said: “Will it upset local businesses? Nobody has any proof that it will.”
Mr Barrett said: “The planning system does not to seek to protect the interests of one party over another.”
Councillor Alan Dent said: “What sustainable reasons have we for refusal?”
Principal solicitor Henry Gordon Lennox said: “I have some sympathy (with local businesses).
“But there are no policy grounds to say no.”