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    Appeal lodged over shop plan refusal

    Former New Inn pub site, Hetton (Photo: Google Maps, October, 2023)

    By Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter

    Controversial plans to convert a former pub into a convenience store are set to be decided by a government-appointed planning inspector.

    An appeal has been lodged against Sunderland City Council’s recent decision to refuse plans for the New Inn pub site in the Hetton area.

    The local authority’s planning department blocked plans for the change of use of the building’s ground floor in November, 2023, over road safety and parking concerns.

    Concerns were linked to the pub site’s location between two roundabouts and roads which already had a “large volume of traffic” associated with a local school.

    Council planners, in a decision report, referenced traffic accident data over a 23-year period, noting there had been at least 20 accidents close to the pub site and “mainly within the two roundabouts”.

    It was also noted that there was no space within the site to allow for maneuvering, meaning vehicles would “have to reverse onto the road between the two roundabouts”.

    Despite the applicant providing details of servicing arrangements to reduce disruption, council planners said there was “no guarantee that the shop would not become part of a chain of stores in the future” using larger vehicles.

    The level of parking advised by the council was also seven spaces, however, the development only proposed three.

    The council decision on the shop plans followed objections from members of the public, as well as an objection from Hetton Town Council over road safety issues.

    It has been confirmed that the applicant is contesting the council refusal decision and has submitted an appeal to the national Planning Inspectorate.

    A planning inspector will now be appointed by the secretary of state to rule on the matter, which could see the council’s refusal decision being upheld or thrown out.

    An appellant statement, published on Sunderland City Council’s website, sets out a ‘statement of case’ for the appeal mainly around parking, its impact on highway safety and servicing of the convenience store.

    The appellant said the convenience store would primarily appeal to users “within easy walking distance of the site” and that it was “highly unlikely” that users would arrive by car.

    It was argued that the area “suffers from very little parking stress at all” and that there were a large number of available spaces near the appeal site.

    Those behind the appeal also claimed many issues linked to the council’s refusal were of “opinion only” and “largely unsubstantiated with empirical evidence or otherwise”.

    According to a council decision report, the applicant’s agent previously submitted a transport statement which concluded that “nearby on-street parking could compensate for the deficit in in-curtilage parking”.

    Those behind the shop plan added the development would provide cycle parking and that there had been “no records of accidents within the immediate vicinity of the site”.

    The appellant’s statement of case report added: “There is significant unrestricted parking adjacent [to] the site and also across the road from this with availability of around 30 parking spaces.

    “The site would require only four further off-site parking spaces however the LPA (local planning authority) have stated that this is out of control of the developer.

    “The transport assessment parking survey, photos herein and an inspector’s site visit will demonstrate that there is a vast amount of unused off-site parking that could ameliorate this issue entirely to show indiscriminate parking would not be likely.

    “The existing car park would come under the control of the convenience store, resulting in appropriate management, or could be closed to the public entirely with off-street parking managing the small number of parking requirements entirely”.

    In reference to the council’s crash map data, the appellant said “no accidents appear to be associated with access or egress to the pub”.

    It was also noted that the site could “easily be serviced by one van”, which would “create little to no impact over and above what is lawful and existing currently”.

    The appellant’s statement of case adds: “The New Inn although existing as a pub could be turned into a useful community facility should this appeal be upheld improving the street scene, reducing the need to travel and preventing the continued dereliction of a prominent local building”.

    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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