The Squirrel Inn - Development Plans
The Squirrel Inn, Areley Kings
Update: July 2018 see: People Power
The Squirrel Inn, Areley Kings Creative Commons - P L Chadwick
Update: 18th March 2018
Councillor Rob Lloyd reports
Planning application 18/0188/FULL has now been received for the Squirrel Inn site on Areley Common.
The owners, Punch Partnerships, are seeking to convert the former public house into 3 dwellings and in addition to construct one house and 2 bungalows. The house is proposed for the front of the site, the bungalows to the rear in the former car park.
Wyre Forest District Council does not consider this to be a "major" application. Therefore, it has been designated as a "delegated decision", which means that it will be decided by an employed Planning Officer, not by the Planning Committee of elected councillors. However, as with all planning applications within Stourport, town councillors will be able to make an advisory recommendation.
The applicants will be very hopeful of this permission being granted, because there have been previous permissions along Areley Common for changes of land use from retail shops, and from community use, to new housing.
The contact details of a demolition company have been affixed to the front wall of the former Squirrel Inn. Before any work can take place, a planning application to demolish the building will have to be made. By the end of 2017, no application had been received by Wyre Forest District Council.
9th June 2017
Wyre Forest District Council have now refused to issue a Certificate of Lawful Development in respect of Tesco's plans for the Squirrel Inn.
This means that their existing planning permission is in effect null and void, unless Tesco succeed in an appeal against the latest decision. If such an appeal fails, they will need to restart the planning application from the beginning, or abandon their plans.
Normally, a planning permission is valid for three years. However, in this case, changes to regulations affecting "Assets of Community Value" have been made since this planning permission was granted. The Squirrel Inn is such an "asset". Areley Kings and Riverside councillors were advised that expert legal opinion would be sought before the relevant WFDC Planning Officer gave an opinion on the new application.
That has now been done and the reason given for refusing the latest application is:
Previous Planning Permission 14/0216/FULL did not grant a change of use of the property to Class A1 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes Order) 1987 (as amended). At the time of determination of the appeal by the Planning Inspectorate, they were not called upon, nor had the power to reflect upon, the acceptability of a change of use which at that time had the benefit of being permitted development. Subsequent to the appeal decision, the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) do no longer allow the change of use from Class A5 to Class A1 without express planning permission. No such planning permission has been granted.
Tesco may appeal against this decision, and we will keep you updated via this page.
Squirrel Inn : Refusal of Certificate of Lawfulness
Tesco sought this certificate to allow development according to the planning permission it received in January 2015. This comment on the council's reasons for refusal covers little ground that we have not explained earlier, but is made for the sake of completeness.
When Tesco applied for, and was eventually successful in obtaining, planning permission to use the Squirrel Inn as a retail unit, the necessary permission related only to the extension proposed to the existing building.
The area occupied by the original building did not require planning permission, because public houses could be converted to retail use without recourse to the planning system.
Subsequent to the Squirrel go-ahead, planning regulations changed for certain classes of building, including the Squirrel. Permission became necessary for a change of use from a public house to a retail unit.
Tesco argued that because the Squirrel permission was given before the regulations changed, the new regulations should not apply.
The council believes the new regulations do apply, because Tesco is seeking to implement its permission only after the rules have changed. Therefore, the council would require a new planning application to be submitted, applicable to the original building and proposed extension.
Tesco could take an alternative route, through the courts.
"Tesco has indicated that it now intends to implement the planning permission which was previously granted to extend the Squirrel Inn and convert it into a supermarket.
That permission was granted on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, not by Wyre Forest District Council.
In the normal course of events, no further planning permission would be needed before work commenced. However, particular circumstances apply to the Squirrel permission, because of its status as an "asset of community value".
This designation was one of a number of specified categories of building which were subject to a change of planning law in 2015. A consequence of this change is that the legal status of the existing planning permission is in doubt - does it still authorise the conversion from public house to retail outlet of both the original building and the proposed extension?
Tesco has now applied for a Lawful Development Certificate, and in doing so has submitted a legal opinion that in their opinion the existing permission is fully valid.
At present Wyre Forest District Council has neither accepted nor rejected Tesco's position. The Council's planners and solicitors are considering the complexities of the legal issues before deciding upon the way forward.
Tesco will then decide what it intends to do with the Squirrel site. They have confirmed that it will not be a Tesco Express convenience store.
However Tesco also own the One-Stop convenience stores, and if their takeover of the Booker Group is allowed they will also own other convenience store franchise brands such as Londis and Budgens.
So if WFDC agree Tesco's position (or it is granted on appeal), it is likely that the Squirrel will become a retail convenience store of some kind. Any other use of the Squirrel site (other than as a Pub) would need a completely fresh planning application.
We will keep you informed of developments by newsletter and here on our website."
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