Farm shop looks to move
A farm shop could relocate to the site of a car sales business, if planning permission is granted.
Gonalston Farm Shop and a Spar store are looking to move on to the John Harrison Peugeot dealership site on Southwell Road, Lowdham.
A decision on the application, for a change of use to a convenience store and relocation of Gonalston Farm Shop with coffee shop and allotments, was deferred by Newark and Sherwood District Council’s planning committee.
Planning officers recommended refusal because the applicant had not submitted a retail impact study with their application that dealt with how it would affect other businesses in Lowdham.
The applicant argued the study was not necessary because the floorspace of the proposal was under the 2,500sq metres default threshold required by government.
The district council’s threshold, however, was 350sq metres for towns and villages outside Newark.
The local member, Mr Tim Wendels, supported the application, describing it as a small local application for a change of venue.
He said the John Harrison dealership had been in Lowdham since 1946 but had recently lost the Peugeot franchise. He said approving the plans would not only safeguard jobs, but bring more.
Mr Wendels said the farm shop had significant problems with the fabric of the farm building it occupied on Southwell Road that would need major work.
“If I or the parish council thought in any way it would have a detrimental effect on the town centre, we would not support it,” Mr Wendels said.
Committee member Mr Roger Blaney said there were many aspects on which he could support Mr Wendels but impact studies were there to protect smaller towns and bigger villages.
He said if the council did not accept its revised policy on the necessity for retail impact studies for proposals over 350sq metres, there was no point in having one and a precedent for ignoring it would be set.
He said the policy needed to be robust and one that the council was prepared to defend.
“I do not think it will have a meaningful impact on retail outlets in Lowdham, but it needs to be tested,” he said.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must recommend refusal.”
Maureen Dobson, a committee member, said: “If we cannot get some sort of agreement with the applicant what will they do with the building — will it stay empty?”
Mrs Dobson said she preferred to have shops in village and town centres but this was a brownfield site where she feared a housing application would be forthcoming instead.
Before Mr Blaney’s proposition was put to the vote, the applicant agreed to a proportional retail impact study.
The application was deferred on the basis the committee was minded to approve once that work was done.