A large UK home, garden and leisure retailer has failed to overturn a rejection of its plans to open at the Motor Mall site on St. John’s main road.
Last year, The Range, which has more than 170 stores across the UK, submitted a planning application to change the use of the area from a retail car sales workshop and forecourt to a non-food retail site.
This was prompted by a desire by Jacksons Group to move all of its cars from the site in order to consolidate its marques at its site on the Airport Road. The forecourt would also close.
Now, following a hearing before an independent planning inspector in July, that appeal has also been dismissed.
In his report, inspector Nigel McGurk agreed with Planning that the application ran counter to a key policy in the current Island Plan, which the States Assembly passed in March, that large-scale retail development outside of St. Helier will not be supported unless there is an “overwhelming” need.
Pictured: The Range wanted to move into the building which Jacksons Group plan to vacate.
Mr McGurk concluded: “The appellant [The Range] considers that the proposal complies with the Island Plan. However, this is not the case. Rather, the proposed development is in direct conflict with the Island Plan’s specific 'large-scale retail' policy is contrary to the clear spatial strategy of the Island Plan.
“Essentially, the appellant suggests that sufficient justification for a departure from the Island Plan arises from a combination of all the evidence in support of the proposal, including the lack of alternative sites, a supportive business case, no significant harm to St. Helier retail centre, countering online sales, taking advantage of an available opportunity and providing more retail choice to islanders.
“In this respect, I am mindful that the development of a large-scale out of town retail store in the Green Zone, offering a wide range of bulky products, would likely attract shoppers and be commercially successful.
“However, it would also be the case that the development of, say, new housing in the Green Zone, with large gardens, green surroundings and distant views would likely attract homebuyers and be commercially successful.”
He added: “Jersey is a small island with various development pressures for its limited resources and the Island Plan establishes a land-use planning policy framework to manage this.
“New large-scale out of town retail development in the countryside is considered inappropriate to Jersey, just as low-density housing estates in the countryside are considered inappropriate to Jersey.
“The fact that there is no directly comparable site available in the built-up area for the development proposed; the existence of demand for competitively-priced bulky goods; a desire to compete with Amazon and online shopping; and the various other factors submitted in support of the proposal may well amount to a strong business case, but they do not amount to such substantive evidence as to provide, either individually or cumulatively, sufficient justification for the setting aside of the policies of the Island Plan.
“Following the clear direction of the States Assembly to limit the spread of urban development into the surrounding countryside, the Island Plan adopts a spatial strategy focused on the built-up area.
“There was plenty of scope for the Island Plan to consider Jersey’s large-scale retail needs during the plan-making process.
“This was done and the resultant adopted Island Plan identifies a specific and purposeful approach to large-scale retail development like that the subject of this appeal.”
Consequently, Mr McGurk recommended that the appeal is refused, something that Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf has agreed with in formally rejecting the appeal.
Reacting to the decision, The Range Property Manager Mike Cotter said: “We are very disappointed by the decision as we thought we had put forward a strong case and offered a suitable alternative use for the site.
“I think it will be difficult for us to find a suitable alternative location on Jersey, so will for now concentrate our efforts on serving the island via the internet.”
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