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High Court blocks Dacorum permission for convenience store

Words: Huw Morris
Co-op store

The High Court has quashed Dacorum Borough Council’s planning permission for a Co-operative convenience store after finding that an officer’s report failed to take account of its impact on a nearby Post Office.

Harkalm Investments secured approval to convert a building originally designed as a GP surgery into the store in Markyate last year. Following about 1,000 objections from residents, it agreed to limit the retail space to a maximum of 170 square metres.

Sagar Patel, the claimant, had argued that the future of his Post Office branch in the village was threatened and that even a smaller store might force him to close.

The High Court noted an officer’s report to councillors that said the impact of the proposal on the Post Office’s trade was "not a significant planning consideration”, while the “small-scale” store would bring the empty GP surgery into use and meet the shopping needs of Markyate’s residents.

Deputy High Court Judge Timothy Mould said this report did not address the question of whether the proposal was in line with national and local planning policies for the protection of community facilities.

He criticised the report for offering councillors “no explanation or advice as to the risks of closure of the Post Office counter resulting from loss of trade”. The report should have addressed this issue and as such “that was a material consideration in its own right”.

The court ruled that members “at least might have reached the overall conclusion that planning permission should be withheld” and therefore quashed the permission.

Image credit | Co-op