Judge Blocks Out-of-Town Superstore Plans

A council's decision to grant planning consent for a superstore has been countermanded for a second time by the High Court on the ground that the potentially 'crippling' impact on the heart of a neighbouring market town had not been adequately considered.

The council's original decision to allow development of a new Asda store on the town's outskirts had been quashed by a judge. However, that did not deter it from again granting planning permission, despite fierce objections from another supermarket chain whose trade in its town centre store was likely to be cut in half.

The would-be developers had sweetened the application with an offer to make a £471,000 financial contribution towards enhancing the town centre. Councillors had taken the view that such an investment would offset the undoubted harm to the town's vitality and viability and rendered the development acceptable.

In overturning the planning permission, the Court found that the council's second decision had been tainted by much the same flaws in reasoning as the first. It was estimated that the superstore would reduce town centre trade by 30 per cent and there had been no analysis by the council of exactly how the developers' financial contribution would mitigate such a serious level of harm.

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