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Change of use planning application submitted in Hanley Stoke on Trent to change a former car repairs workshop to retail and office space. En-Plan; Planning Consultants for Stoke on Trent.

NEW SHOP AND OFFICE UNIT

HANLEY, STOKE ON TRENT

Planning Application submitted for the change of use of a former car repairs workshop to a local convenience store with associated storage and office space in Northwood, Stoke on Trent.

Following an initial consultation with the client En-Plan: Planing & Architecture formulated a full planning application to Stoke City Council Council for the above change of use.  A new shop frontage has been added to the application as well as a supporting statement exhorting the value of the proposal and how it will not impact upon the Hanley shopping area but looks to serve the local people and their immediate shopping needs.

Hanley is one of the six towns that amalgamated to form the city of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England. While each of the six towns (Hanley, Burslem, Fenton, Longton, Stoke-upon-Trent, and Tunstall) has its own unique history and character, Hanley has traditionally been regarded as the "city centre" of Stoke-on-Trent. Hanley is centrally located among the six towns. This makes it an accessible and convenient location for residents from across the city.Over time, Hanley benefited from significant investment in infrastructure and d evelopment, leading to better transportation links and amenities. Historically, Hanley has been a hub of activity, hosting markets and various events that attracted people. This made it a logical place for traders and businesses to set up shop. In recent times, there have been significant investments in Hanley to bolster its role as the primary shopping centre of Stoke-on-Trent. For instance, the development of the Intu Potteries shopping centre (previously known as The Potteries Shopping Centre) played a significant role in consolidating Hanley's position as the main shopping destination. Hanley boasts a mix of high street chains, independent retailers, a theater, cinemas, restaurants, and other leisure facilities, making it a comprehensive destination for both shopping and entertainment. Over the years, planning decisions would have favoured the concentration of retail and commercial activities in Hanley to ensure a vibrant city centre, further cementing its status. In summary, a combination of historical evolution, strategic location, investments, and planning decisions has resulted in Hanley becoming the primary shopping and commercial centre of Stoke-on-Trent.

Northwood is an area located within Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England. Like the rest of Stoke-on-Trent, Northwood's history is intertwined with the pottery and coal industries. The history of Northwood, like many parts of Stoke-on-Trent, would have been shaped by the local natural resources, mainly coal and clay. These resources would later become crucial in establishing Stoke-on-Trent as the heart of the pottery industry in England. The 18th and 19th centuries saw a massive expansion in the pottery industry, with Stoke-on-Trent, including Northwood, at its center. Northwood would have seen an influx of workers and families coming to work in the potteries and related industries. The decline of the pottery industry in the mid-to-late 20th century would have had an impact on areas like Northwood, leading to job losses and economic challenges. However, Stoke-on-Trent has worked hard over the years to reinvent itself, focusing on service industries, tourism related to its pottery heritage, and other sectors. Northwood is a primarily residential area, with a mix of housing from different eras reflecting its development over the years. Like many parts of Stoke, it has faced challenges related to post-industrial decline but is also home to a rich history and a tight-knit community.

As of my last update in September 2021, Hanley, like many other city centres across the UK and globally, faced several challenges related to shopping and commercial activity. The rise of e-commerce platforms has made online shopping more convenient, leading to a decline in footfall in brick-and-mortar stores. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend as more consumers turned to online shopping during lockdowns. Economic challenges, including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have affected consumer spending. Many people have faced job losses or reduced incomes, leading to decreased spending in physical retail outlets. Business rates in the UK can be high, which puts pressure on retailers, especially smaller, independent businesses. This can lead to shop closures or deter new businesses from opening. Beyond online shopping, consumers' habits have evolved, with more emphasis on experiences rather than traditional shopping. This means that areas like Hanley need to diversify their offerings to attract visitors. Any issues related to transportation, parking, or general accessibility can deter shoppers from visiting city centres. Modern shoppers value convenience, and if it's easier to visit out-of-town shopping centres with ample parking, they might choose those over city centres.

As some retailers close down, they can leave behind vacant storefronts, which can detract from the area's overall appeal. A high number of empty shops can create a negative feedback loop, reducing the attractiveness of the area for both shoppers and potential new businesses.Other nearby shopping destinations or retail parks ca n pose competition, drawing away potential shoppers. Issues related to crime or the perception of safety can impact footfall. Ensuring a safe shopping environment is crucial for attracting and retaining shoppers. A successful modern city centre typically offers a mix of retail, dining, cultural, and leisure experiences. Ensuring this mix and keeping it fresh and relevant can be challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new challenges, like the rise in remote working, which reduces the number of people coming into city centres. The long-term impacts of these shifts remain to be seen. To address these challenges, city centres like Hanley would likely need to adopt a multifaceted approach, considering infrastructure improvements, financial incentives for businesses, diversifying offerings, and promoting the unique experiences that physical shopping areas can provide.

The Planners at Stoke Planning Department asked for a Retail Sequential Test to be prepared to show how the scheme would not compete with the vitality and viability fo the Hanley Retail Centre and retail centres within that such as The Potteries Shopping Centre.  The retail sequential test is a planning principle used in the UK to manage the growth and development of town centers and ensure their vitality and viability. The sequential approach prioritizes town center sites for retail and certain other uses over out-of-center sites. It's a key component of the UK's planning policy framework. The main idea is to ensure that developments are located in the most sustainable locations, primarily in town center locations first, before considering edge-of-center and only then out-of-center locations. A developer must demonstrate that there are no suitable and available sites in more preferable locations (i.e., town center first, then edge-of-center) for the scale and type of development proposed. Developers should be flexible about their proposals, especially in terms of scale and format, to ensure town center locations are given the first look. If a slightly smaller or modified development could fit within a town center, then that should be considered. A thorough assessment of alternative sites should be made. This means looking at the suitability, availability, and viability of more central sites. If an out-of-center site is being considered and it's not in a local plan, and if it's of a certain size, an impact test might be required. This test assesses whether the development would harm the vitality and viability of nearby town centers. The retail sequential test is designed to ensure that town centers remain vibrant and active, concentrating retail, leisure, and other key uses in central locations where they're most accessible. This, in turn, reduces the need to travel, supports public transport, and maintains the cultural and historic role town centers play in community life.

En-Plan then produced a detailed statement showing the relevant planing history in the locality which demonstrated a legal precedent for such development as shown below:

21297/FUL UNIT 4, HALLFIELD WORKS, FESTING STREET, HANLEY, STOKE ON TRENT

CHANGE OF USE OF SECONG FLOOR TO PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO

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19175/FUL HALLFIELD, WORKS, FESTING STREET, HANLEY, STOKE ON TRENT

SUBDIVISION INTO FIVE INDUSTRIAL OR WAREHOUSING UNITS

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17254/FUL FESTING STREET, HANLEY, STOKE ON TRENT

CHANGE OF USE TO MANUFACTURING AND ASSEMBLY OF, REFRIDGERATION UNITS AND SHOPFITTINGS, WAREHOUSING, AND ANCILLARY OFFICES

 

00275/FUL 101, BUCKNALL NEW ROAD, HANLEY, STOKE ON TRENT, STAFFS

USE OF FIRST FLOOR AS OFFICES

 

13321/FUL 165, BUCKNALL NEW ROAD, BUCKNALL, STOKE ON TRENT

CHANGE OF USE FROM CLASS X TO CLASS I RETAIL FURNITURE CASH AND CARRY

 

02473/FUL 101, BUCKNALL NEW ROAD, HANLEY, STOKE ON TRENT, STAFFS

CHANGE OF USE TO HAIRDRESSING SALON

 

17637/FUL CITY CENTRE TRAVEL, 101 BUCKNALL NEW ROAD, HANLEY, STOKE ON TRENT, STAFFS

OPERATION OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE COMPANY

In the search for suitable premises the operators of 14 Grafton Street were not able to locate anything else within Northwood that would meet their requirement for a neighbourhood convenience store.  The Council advised that a Sequential Test was required to accompany this application but this is based on the assumption the unit will be in competition with the adjacent Strategic Centre of Hanley where in fact the proposal is intended to serve the people of Northwood for their immediate needs and the provision of a safe accessible off license within the neighbourhood. Were a full sequential test required it would need to look at the following points in assessing the proposed site over more central location but this fails to understand the business model underlying the application.

Sustainability Appraisal

 

a) an economic objective– to help build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right types is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth, innovation and improved productivity; and by identifying and coordinating the provision of infrastructure;

 

The creation of a small local convenience storey will have a small net benefit on the local economy by the creation of new jobs.

 

b) a social objective– to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by fostering a well-designed and safe built environment, with accessible services and open spaces that reflect current and future needs and support communities’ health, social and cultural well-being.

 

In this respect the proposal has a high positive impact upon the welfare of the people by removing a car repair centre and replacing a conflicting use with a more sustainable use in a predominately residential area.

 

c) an environmental objective– no impact will occurr in this respect.

 

Conclusions of the Report

 

As the proposal is for the change of an existing vacant commercial unit in an area where the precedent for such a change has already been established and accepted by the Council, there is nothing in planning terms that would preclude an approval, as shown in the planning history section above.

 

The change of use to create a local convenience store to serve the people of Northwood units will not impinge on the vitality and viability of the adjacent Town Centre as it is not in competition with the retail units located in the centre.

 

The added benefit of the removal of the car repairs use will be an improvement in residential amenity within the issues of noise and traffic congestion being reduced and the convenience of a shop that meets their immediate needs will only improve the quality of their lives.

 

With the above points in the mind planning consent will allow for the creation of a new sustainable local convenience store that will have a positive benefit on residential amenity in the locality and have no impact upon the vitality and viability of the Haley Strategic Centre.

ntribute to protecting and enhancing our natural world:

If you would like to find out more about how our Planning Consultancy and Architectural Design Services can work in perfect sync to achieve a successful outcome in the planning system please CONTACT US and we will be only too happy to talk through any questions or development proposals you may have.

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