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Newmarket retail inquiry

DATE: 26 Feb 2014

This was a six day inquiry into an appeal by Unex (No 3) Ltd against the refusal by Forest Heath District Council of planning permission and listed building consent for a retail-led regeneration scheme on the edge of Newmarket town centre, including a 3716sqm ASDA food store, 4 retail units, a cafe and restaurant, an art gallery and the restoration of a complex of highly dilapidated listed buildings on the High Street frontage.

The issues included:
1) whether the development would be in breach of development plan policies designed to safeguard the horse-racing industry in Newmarket, having regard to the site's former use as a racehorse training establishment;

2) whether those policies were compliant with the NPPF, having regard to the judgment of Kenneth Parker J in Colman v SSCLG [2013] EWHC 1138 (Admin);

3) whether the impact of the development on the conservation area within which it would be located would be substantial or less than substantial, and whether the appropriate test in NPPF paras 133-134 to justify the degree of harm was satisfied; and

4) whether the scheme's impact on the viability and vitality of the town centre would be beneficial by virtue of clawing back trade lost to out of centre locations (as alleged by the appellant) or harmful by virtue of its cumulative impact taken together with recently consented out of centre retail schemes proposed by Tesco and Morrisons (as alleged by the Council).

Charles Banner and Heather Sargent appeared for the Appellant, instructed by Savills and The Unex Group.