Reassessment of Whetherspoon’s Application 96974

Reassessment of Application 96974

In the comment and correspondence which has followed the above application, the view has been heard that it is a re-submission of its forerunner 95473 and that in assessing it the LPA is obliged to confine itself to the reasons for refusing the earlier application.  The purpose of this comment is to challenge that view.

The second reason for refusing the first application, 95473, was:

2. On the basis of the limited details submitted regarding the visual impact and impact through noise and disturbance caused by physical changes which would be required  .  .  the Council is unable to be satisfied that the changes would not have a detrimental impact on interests of acknowledged importance.

These words make clear that what was not known could not be assessed.   The following paragraphs contrast the information supplied by the two application forms and design statements.   The second application (96974) contains much factual information which the first lacked, and so allows for the first time an assessment of the scale and consequences of what is proposed.

Application Forms.   Comparison of the application forms shows that the only difference is in the proposed hours of opening:

Application number

95473

96974

total site area

1420.1 sq m

1420.1 sq m

net indoor trading area

delete 474.8 sq m

delete 474.8 sq m

drinking establishment

add 474.8 sq m

add 474.8 sq m

restaurants and cafes

add 0 sq m

add 0 sq m

existing parking spaces

0

0

proposed parking spaces

0

0

existing employees

0

0

proposed employees

0

0

hours of opening

not known

Monday-Friday:  07:00 to 23:30Saturday:             07:00 to 00:30Sunday:               07:00 to 23:30

Bank Holidays:   07:00 to 00:30

Do the plans incorporate areas to store and aid the collection of waste?

no

no
Have arrangements been made for the separate storage and collection of recyclable waste?

no

no

Design Statements.    The D & A Statement accompanying application 95473 is just 287 words long.   The 98 words describing the proposal were:

AMOUNT OF DEVELOPMENT  There will be minor revision to the internal layout and the installation of a disabled platform hoist, goods hoist and disabled WC. A new kitchen, storage areas, and new bar will be installed.   New customer toilets will be created on the first floor.

 

LAYOUT  As described above, minor changes are planned to the internal layout only.

 

SCALE  No changes are planned which will affect the scale of the building overall.

 

LANDSCAPING  The existing neglected and overgrown rear walled garden area will be cleared and used as a new beer garden associated with the public house.

The Planning Statement accompanying the current application is by contrast 38 pages long and sets out specifically to provide additional information:

.  .  There is an opportunity to resolve locally the issues which led to the initial refusal, primarily by submitting further information and technical documents enabling a fully informed and balanced judgement to be made.

It includes the following:

The premises will create up to 50 new jobs. It is estimated that of these about 15 will be full time and 35 part time.   This statement contradicts the “proposed employees” question in the application form, and allows the very substantial scale of the proposal to be seen for the first time.

The proposal is to provide food and drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to customers throughout the day. The layout allows for 26 tables and 114 seats plus standing customers. Only the ground floor and rear terrace are to be used for eating and drinking, with the toilets and office accommodation on the first floor. A further 12 tables and 48 seats are proposed for the rear terrace. Furniture will remain in situ at all times and will not be removed to allow greater vertical drinking occupancy at peak times.   This new information gives a further measure of the scale of the proposed operation.   The 114 seats are all indoors;  another 48 are shown at tables on the proposed rear terrace, making 162 in all, plus “vertical drinking occupancy” space which in the applicants’ own verbal estimate could see up to 200 customers on the premises at one time.

J D Wetherspoon outlets are not just “pubs” in the conventional sense; they offer a wide range of food and non-alcoholic beverages, food is available from opening until 22:00 every day.   Because of its likely customer base and location, we would anticipate that food sales at the premises will comprise 45% to 50% of total sales by value.  .  .  The proposed opening hours are between the hours of 07:00 for breakfast with alcohol sales from 09:00, closing at 23:30 Sundays to Thursdays, and 00:30 Fridays and Saturdays.   Hours for the sale of alcohol   .  .  would normally commence at 09:00 and cease 30 minutes before the close of the premises to allow a gradual dispersal of any remaining customers.  The applicant is at pains to emphasise the proportion of non-alcohol sales.   But these sit uncomfortably against the  claim in both application forms that 100% of the trading space will be assigned to the A4 purpose of a drinking establishment, and must be seen in the context of the proposed opening hours and the very substantial turnover (conservatively estimated at more than £2 million annually) implied by the number of promised jobs.   Furthermore, for the last 1½ or 2½ hours of every day food will not be available.

There will be no on-site parking provision for cars or other motor vehicles.   Customers and staff travelling by car will be expected to use the town centre’s public car parks or park on street, where permitted.  .  .  The situation remains as at present, with these retail premises being serviced from the street.   This is normal in Lymington and most town centres.  There has been no objection from the highway authority and there is no reason to assume that there will be any abnormal risks created by the proposed change of use.  .  .  All deliveries will take place from St Thomas St, as they do now to the existing retail premises.  .  .  As with deliveries, all collections of refuse and material for recycling will be carried out from from St Thomas Street  .  .  .   These extracts conflict oddly with the information supplied in both applications in answer to the question “Do the plans incorporate areas to store and aid the collection of waste?”   Judged on the scale set by the number of jobs to be created, there is, as has been pointed out in many of the 883 objections so far lodged against the application, good reason for supposing that the proposed change of use will pose “abnormal risks” as a consequence of increased road traffic.   The dismissal of such risk by the Highway Authority appears complacent, while the same authority’s claim that “traffic is not a planning matter” is contradicted by PPG 13, on which an Inspector relied in February 2011 as the sole ground for dismissing an appeal by the same applicant against refusal of a similar change of use application in Beverley.

An acoustic survey has been undertaken  .  .  This shows that neighbouring residents (including those in the care home opposite) and users of other property nearby should not experience any undue noise from plant and equipment used on the premises or from the use of the designated terrace area by customers.   While this new information is welcome, it has been pointed out by objectors that it is open to challenge on several grounds, particularly as it does not concern itself with noise created off the premises by movement of people and motor vehicles.

Conclusion.   Application 96974 can not be regarded as a resubmission of the refused 95473 which, as recorded in the reasons for its refusal, was notably deficient in essential information.   The new application makes possible for the first time an understanding of the scale and scope of what is proposed, and assessment of it must examine every relevant factor, many of which are revealed by its supporting documents for the first time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s