Retrospective approval for store opened without planning permission

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

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Euro Fresh Supermarket in Bradford (Photo via LDRS)

A supermarket that opened in Bradford without planning permission can continue to operate – but must scrap its 24-hour opening plan.

Councillors said they had no planning reasons to refuse the application, even if they had “moral and ethical” reasons to say no.

The former Khawaja Poultry at the Southfield Road/Little Horton Lane Junction was converted into a Euro Fresh Supermarket this Summer – and a street food shack was built in the business’ small car park.

Both developments were carried out without planning permission, and Bradford Council launched enforcement action.

Khawaja Local submitted a retrospective application for the conversion, and this application went before Bradford Council’s Bradford Area Planning Panel last week.

Planning officers had recommended the plans be approved, saying despite the work going ahead without permission, there was no planning reason to refuse the store.

But members were told that the shop’s advertised 24-hour opening was not acceptable.

There had been numerous objections to the plan, including from residents of neighbouring Frimley Drive – onto which customers would enter and exit the store.

Councillor Dave Green (Lab, Wibsey) spoke on behalf of residents, saying: “The apparent lack of parking for this retail outlet will cause numerous problems on Frimley Drive, which is technically a one way street.”

Highways officers suggested better signage could be installed around the store to advise customers of the restrictions.

Many members of the panel raised issue with the fact that two businesses had been developed on the site without planning permission.

Councillor Si Cunningham (Lab, Bolton and Undercliffe) said: “I’m struggling with this application. Has the applicant been a good neighbour? There is little evidence that this site is conducive to good neighbourly values.

“By approving this are we giving consent to the breaches already in place? I don’t think this would send a good message out to others.”

Planning officer Amin Ibrar said that the issues were happening already, and granting planning permission would offer more control. He said the shop was advertised as opening 24/7 – but planning permission would require the store to close at 6pm (4pm on a Sunday).

When asked how confident he was that the Council would enforce any breaches of planning conditions Mr Ibrar said the business would be monitored, but added: “Like all Council departments, we have staffing issues in enforcement.”

Members heard that if the plan was approved, the developer could be asked to fund traffic measures at the exit to the store.

Councillor Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said: “I struggle to find a planning reason to refuse this. There might be moral and ethical reasons for saying no, but unfortunately we can’t consider them.”

He suggested that, if approved, the plan should require the car park to be gated off after closing hours each evening.

There should also be a maximum limit on the time it takes for the street food business to be removed from the car park.

Chair Councillor Sinead Engel (Lab, Clayton and Fairweather Green) urged the Council’s enforcement team to pay close attention to the business, saying: “We’d be naive to trust this business to follow every single condition.”

Two members voted to approve the plan, two voted to refuse it and two abstained. Cllr Engel cast the deciding vote to approve the application.

Conditions are that the business will need to agree to pay for traffic signage within three months of the approval, and must have removed the street food business a month after that.

The opening hours will also be limited to 9am to 6pm on Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.