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Posted by: John Brace | 4th January 2012

Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 3rd January 2011 Part 2 APP/11/00954 – 6 MILLBROOK ROAD, POULTON, CH41 1FL – Change of use from industrial unit to auctioneers – sui generis

The Chair directed those present to page 27 and agenda item 6 (APP/11/00954), 6 Millbrook Road, Poulton, CH41 1FL, Change of use from industrial unit to auctioneers.

Matthew said it was for a change of use to an auctioneers which was the sui generis class. It was in a mainly industrial area on an industrial estate, the Unitary Development Plan allowed uses B1, B2 and B8 here so it was not an acceptable use as they should locate somewhere easy and sustainable. There was a shortage of land for industrial purposes. One auction was held a week on Wednesday evening. It was not conflicting with adjacent businesses, but was still not an acceptable use. There was insufficient information to justify the loss on two grounds, Unitary Development Plan EM8 and the fact it was not sustainable.

Cllr John Salter said he would declare a personal interest as he had had a chat with the owner and a discreet visit to the premises. He said the business needed a large premises and the business had been established for eight years. There was no parking problem and no problem on the one day they had sales. He wanted to draw attention to the fact that 75% of the trade at the public auction was to other businesses, local traders such as second hand shops and it was not mainly for the public.

On the subject of public transport he disagreed with officers as about hundred metres away was Birkenhead Park railway station which he had walked many times. He wanted to overturn officer’s recommendation that it was up for refusal and asked for it to be approved, he did have a form of words.

The Chair said he wanted everybody to have their say, his only concerns was supporting the Unitary Development Plan except for good reasons especially in Bromborough and Ellesmere Port.

Cllr Dave Mitchell asked whether the applicant had been in touch with the Economy & Regeneration Department over moving to more acceptable premises. He commented that the business had been running for eighteen months and said it might benefit from having a look at venues available.

The Chair asked officers if they’d like to come back on alternative venues?

Matthew said that there were vacant sites in the Town Centre, but they hadn’t pushed the applicant to go through hte process. He said it was difficult to make the case.

Cllr Stuart Kelly said it was interesting as it was a sui generis class and in Latin. He had googled it and hadn’t come across auctioneer in government advice. He said that Matthew’s advice was surrounding a change of use. He asked what assessment had been done to see if it didn’t fall into the acceptable B1, B2 or B8 categories? He said there was no mention in the Unitary Development Plan and there was an absence of advice. He had resorted to Google to see what was out there and what it really is? He said it cut across B1, B2 and B7 and referred to Cllr John Salter’s comments about the auction being once a week. The rest of the time it was storage and distribution (class B8) which they didn’t appear to have a policy for the B-class and sui generis. He asked where would they be on appeal as it was near B8 and was 50/50. The report established the numbers of cars used and that B1/B2/B8 uses which was close enough to make no difference, unless the officers came up with a good argument to the contrary.

The Chair thanked Cllr Kelly for his interesting points.

Matthew said the element of concern was the public sales as a proportion were to the general public. People movements were not supposed to happen here but to the Town Centre where there was public transport provision. He agreed that some of the use was storage and distribution (B8 class), but the sales to the general public were moving it to an A1 use. There was some case law categorising it as A1 use. However the balance of case law was that each sui generis class should be decided on its own merits. The sole issue was sales to the general public.

Cllr Brian Kenny said he would not be happy to support an application not in accordance with the planning policies, but as detailed in the application it had been running for ten years and this was a retrospective application. There were no highway issues, no health and safety implications, no environmental implications which made it difficult to oppose. In principle he was not happy in opposing the Unitary Development Plan. He asked what words they would use to support it. He reserved the right to decide.

The Chair said there would have to be an urgent reason to outweight the Unitary Development Plan.

Cllr John Salter said that 75% of the business was wholesale, there were similar business in the area such as Moreton Alarms who did lighting and were no different (in selling to members of the public). Cllr Dave Mitchell asked if Moreton Alarms were on the main road as it made a difference? Cllr Mitchell apologised for interrupting Cllr John Salter. Cllr John Salter said he wanted to move it and he’d passed a form of words to Matthew, with alterations on hours. He said it was very accessible, well established for eight years and to move elsewhere he would lose clientele.

The Chair asked if there was something to move? He said each application should be considered on its merits especially the sui generis class.

Cllr John Salter said it was a sustainable business with 78% of its trade being not to the public, but to wholesale. He added a condition that the total number of auctions not exceed one a week. These would happen on a Wednesday from 1700 to 2100 and at no other time. This would not compromise the operation regarding industrial uses in the area. He referred to policy EM6 of the Unitary Development Plan and said that public access would be limited.

The Chair said that the proposal had been proposed and seconded and that it was a unique application and the circumstances had been demonstrated.

The first vote was on approving the application.

For: Cllrs Elderton, Clements, Boult, Johnson, Kenny, Salter, Realey, Mooney, Walsh, Kelly (10)
Against: Cllr Dave Mitchell (1)
Absentions: None (0)

Application APP/11/00954 was approved (10:1:0)

The Chair said they now needed to consider the conditions which he asked an officer to reiterate.

Matthew said they had one condition which was that the total number of auctions not exceed one a week and that this sole auction was restricted to Wednesday between 5pm and 9pm.

The second vote was on the condition.

For: Cllrs Elderton, Clements, Boult, Johnson, Kenny, Salter, Realey, Mooney, Walsh, Kelly (10)
Against: Cllr Dave Mitchell (1)
Abstentions: None (0)

The condition was approved (10:1:0). Two members of the public left.


Responses

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