The Secretary of State has dismissed the appeal brought by Commercial Estates projects (CEP) against the City Council's rejection of their scheme for a superstore, hotel / pub and petrol station in Scotforth. The decision was released by the Planning Inspectorate on Thursday 16 August.
Booths supermarkets already have outline planning permission to build a new supermarket on an adjacent site. Their current supermarket premises are expected to be taken over by a discount foodstore and the inspectorate considered that these developments would ease unmet food shopping needs in south Lancaster.
A major concern was that such additional retail development in south Lancaster could adversely affect both the Booths planned supermarket and the delivery of the Canal Corridor site, although this is still held in paralysis under the 'extended' Centros development agreement with the City Council, which, after long, weary years of expensive grooming is yet to deliver a viable plan for a 250 year lease, or indeed any visible financial projections that might lead to one. Outline drawings recently released by Centros suggest that a small foodstore might form part of their scheme and perhaps one day we will even hear a little more about who might operate it and what it might look like. Possibly someone will get around to an analysis of how it will stand up to existing nearby supermarket competition, how if will affect local retailers, how many people are likely to use it and how this will affect the traffic - as has been analysed in the Inspectorate's report on the CEP and Booths proposals. In the absence of such basic requirements, according to the Inspectorate, it seems unlikely that any Canal Corridor developments can be delivered before 2020 at the earliest. However this development retains sequential priority over any other major retail developments in the area.
Another consideration was the necessity under local planning priorities to leave space for a road through to Whinney Carr. While there is no planning proposal currently active for developing this greenfield area between Scotforth and the University, it has been earmarked in council plans as a site for possible future housing expansion if required, in which case a link road between the A6 and Ashton Road would be vital.
CEP have six weeks in which to lodge a challenge to the dismissal of their appeal with the High Court. The inspector's report and other documents relating to their planning application and appeal can be found on the city council website (Ref: 10/00366/OUT).