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									2005/1346 OTIUM PARK HIGHLANDS ROAD SHIRLEY
Application No:            2005/1346

Ward/Area:                 SHIRLEY SOUTH

Location:                  OTIUM PARK HIGHLANDS ROAD SHIRLEY SOLIHULL

Date Registered:           29/06/05

Applicant:                 OTIUM SOLIHULL LP

Proposal:                  ERECTION OF NON FOOD RETAIL UNIT (CLASS A1 OF THE TOWN
                           AND COUNTRY PLANNING (USE CLASSES) ORDER 1987)
                           INCLUDING ANCILLARY OFICE ACCOMMODATION, CAFÉ (CLASS
                           A3), WITH ASSOCIATED GARDEN CENTRE, SERVICE YARD, CAR
                           PARKING (2 DECKS) AND ASSOCIATED LANDSCAPING AND
                           HIGHWAYS WORKS.


PROPOSAL

This application seeks full planning permission for the redevelopment of the Dave &
Busters/David Lloyd site located off Highland Road near its junction with Monkspath
Hall Road and the Stratford Road. The proposal will provide a two storey B&Q
Warehouse (of some 18,707 m2 floorspace and/or sales space) together with a decked
garden centre (at first floor level) that will be served by a decked car park
accommodating some 500 cars. Vehicular access to the site is to be provided via a
revised access of Highland Road (in a similar position to the existing). This access
will also provide joint servicing access to the service yard that is located to the front
of the site beneath the garden centre and the customer car park. The proposal will
allow the relocation of the existing B&Q store located at the retail park off Marshall
Lake Road to the application site, which could be ensured by condition or legal
agreement.

The layout & design of the proposals have been through a number of changes during
the processing of the application and the development now comprises of the
following:

                   Ground floor:
                   Sales                                           5,769
                   Goods handling                                    516
                   Entrances                                       2,255

                   First floor:
                   Sales                                           5,769
                   Goods handling                                    280
                   Entrances/coffee shop                             485
                   Offices                                           502
                   Garden centre                                   3,131



                                                                               Page 1
                Total                                             18,707

The principal element of the building is provided in a rectangular form with overall
dimensions of some 125m x 47m (at a height of 15.9m) and runs in a north-east to
south-west direction. On the north-west side of the building will be a projection to
accommodate the goods handling areas. Forward of the goods handling area, running
alongside the building itself and then projecting further forward (by 30m) towards
Highlands Road, is the service area, above which will be the garden centre (to a height
of 12.6m). To the south-east of the main building will be the car park. This is
provided both at ground floor level with a similar sized area above on a decked area
that is accessed via a ramp immediately adjacent to the south-east boundary of the
site. This will be 8.4m above ground floor level. The decked car park has overall
dimensions of 165m x 32m, in addition to which a small section (48m x 16m) extends
to the side (immediately to the rear of the building itself). The decked car park will be
set in 12m from the Stratford Road frontage.

Offices are located at first floor level (which includes a additional mezzanine level)
towards the Highlands Road frontage of the site and are provided in an „L‟ shaped
form. This part of the building also accommodates staff rooms, locker rooms, training
rooms & toilets. Either end of the ends of the „L‟ shape will be marked by taller
translucent circulation towers which will be topped in orange & incorporate B&Q‟s
signage.

Most of the site is proposed to be covered by buildings though provision is made for
landscaping of its periphery.

In terms of materials, the south-east elevation will include glass plank glazing to the
ground floor elevation with shop front/curtain walling at first floor level. To the
north-west & south-west will be a dark coloured, recessive profiled cladding to the
ground floor with a light coloured composite cladding at first floor level. Timber
cladding is proposed to the garden centre, with low-level gabion wall/landscaping.
The north-east elevation that faces towards Highlands Road will contain glazing at
ground & first floor levels.

Vehicular access into the site for both customers & service vehicles is from a single
access onto Highlands Road but within a few metres of entering the site, service
vehicles & customer vehicles are split with the service vehicles turning right into yard
under the garden centre. Customers will turn left in front of the end of the store and
then right into the car park at ground floor level. Approximately one third of the way
down the side elevation, customers will have a choice to continue within the car park
at ground floor level or turn left and onto the ramp that leads to the decked car park
above.

Pedestrian access into the site may be made from both Highlands Road and from
Stratford Road with a route running alongside the long flank of the building.
Pedestrian access & egress into/out of the store will be possible from both ground &
first floor levels and will be from entry/exit points situated on the long flank of the
building. The plans indicate a travellator within the store to allow movement between
floors prior to the checkout areas. Other lifts/stairs are shown both within the trading
area of the store and outside beyond the checkout areas.


                                                                               Page 2
The applicant‟s indicate that the proposals would result in the creation of between 200
& 300 jobs.

In support of the application, the following have been submitted:

      Planning & Retail Report (including supplementary report)
      Design Statement
      Transport Assessment
      Supplementary report to Transport Assessment (M42 Junction 4)
      Arboricultural Report
      Ecological Assessment
      Flood Risk Assessment

CONSULTATION RESPONSES

Highway Engineers                           : Raise objection to the development, but this would
                                              be overcome with the securing of a significant
                                              contribution towards the future improvement of the
                                              Monkspath Hall Road/Stratford Road junction.

Highways Agency                             : No objection

West Midlands Regional Assembly             : Considered to be in general conformity with the
                                              Regional Spatial Strategy.

CENTRO                                      : No objection

Environment Agency                          : No objection

Severn Trent Water                          : No objection

West Midlands Fire Service                  : No objection

Landscape Architects                        : Views to be reported on latest plans

Ecologist                                   : No objection

Neighbours Notified                         :   30/06/05

Site Notice                                 : 04/07/05

Press Notice                                : 06/07/05

REPRESENTATIONS

Three letters of objection have been received which are summarised as follows:

Local Residents



                                                                             Page 3
One letter received raising the following concerns:

      Increased traffic - Mention is made of 500 spaces, HGVs visiting at all hours,
       no changes in road network, heavy congestion already exist, no plans to
       improve pedestrian safety.
      Noise pollution - Noise from HGVs.
      Loss of amenities - The site was originally dedicated to leisure activities &
       loss of sports & childcare facilities

Representations on behalf of Asda (in relation to their Haslucks Green Road site in
Shirley (Powergen))

They point out that PPS6 states that:

   Where it is argued that otherwise sequentially-preferable sites are not appropriate
   for the particular development proposed, applicants should provide clear
   evidence to demonstrate why such sites are not practicable alternatives in terms
   of:

          Availability: the sites are unavailable now and are unlikely to become
           available for development within a reasonable period of time (determined
           on the merits of a particular case). Where such sites become available
           unexpectedly after receipt of the application the local planning authority
           should take this into account in their assessment of the application; and
          Suitability: with due regard to the requirements to demonstrate flexibility
           (paragraphs 3.15–3.18), the sites are not suitable for the type of
           development proposed; and
          Viability: the development would not be viable on these sites.

They believe that the Powergen site to be more edge-of-centre than out-of-centre (and
thus higher up the sequential test hierarchy). Furthermore they believe that the site is
immediately available and there are no physical development constraints that would
prevent its development. Therefore they contend that this proposal fails the sequential
test of PPS6.

In considering what weight ought to be attached to this representation, members
should note that the Council‟s Development Brief for the site (which was adopted on
28th November 2005 after a period of public consultation) seeks to exclude the retail
development of the site and promotes a mixed-use development. This aspect of the
brief was the subject of objections from Asda and in the report to Cabinet Member the
following comments were made:

   “… site outside defined town centre boundary. Its development for retail purposes
   is not considered appropriate given:

          its poor links with the town centre caused by distance to the prime retail
           centre and the barrier that Haslucks Green Road poses;
          the exacerbation of elongated nature of the town centre which is
           acknowledged as a fundamental defect; and
          that it would divert investment from the town centre”


                                                                              Page 4
Representations on behalf of Shirley Advance

Shirley Advance are concerned to ensure that the vitality and viability of Shirley town
centre is strengthened. They contend that development of a large out-of-centre retail
store is contrary to the thrust of Government & UDP policy that seeks to ensure that
development is focused in existing centres and avoid the sporadic siting of retail
development along road corridors.

They recognise that although not regarded as a „centre‟ in PPS6 terms, the retail park
at Marshall Lake Road provides scope for retail warehouse operations to be
accommodated and that a turnover of operators throughout their lifespan allows
flexibility in format & size for potential operators. This is in part illustrated by
occupation by Boots & Argos. A further vacancy on the retail park could lead to
another traditional town centre operator seeking to locate there instead of a town
centre. They also point out that the Evans Halshaw site is also available for retail
warehouse development.

Shirley Advance contend that the A34 is a key strategic gateway corridor into the
Borough which has a vital role to play in creating a favourable image of the Borough,
but the development of a large B&Q shed is unlikely to contribute positively to that
aim and is inappropriate.

They also point to the detrimental impact on the nearby residential development as a
result of extended opening hours, seven days a week and the consequential traffic
levels outside of normal working hours and to increased traffic congestion, as most
customers would arrive by car.

POLICY

RPG11 – Regional Planning Guidance for the West Midlands (2004) (Regional
Spatial Strategy)

PA11 - The Network of Town and City Centres
PA13 - Out of Centre Retail Development

Solihull Unitary Development Plan 2006

S9 - Out of Centre Retail Developments
ENV2 - Urban Design

Government Guidance

PPS1 - Delivering Sustainable Development
PPS6 - Planning for Town Centres
PPG13 - Transport

SPGs

None relevant


                                                                             Page 5
PLANNING HISTORY

There have been a number of planning applications submitted concerning the site that
includes the 1996 application for the development of the site in its present form.

SITE DESCRIPTION

The site (which amounts to some 2.2ha) is located between Stratford Road &
Highlands Road approximately 3km south east of Shirley town centre. Immediately
to the north of the site was the former UCI cinema which is being redeveloped to
provide 3 car showrooms and to the south are offices occupied by ProLogis. Part of
the south-western boundary of the site is shared with the detached restaurant premises
that fronts onto Stratford Road whilst the remainder extends onto Stratford Road itself
to provide a frontage of 47m. Beyond on the opposite side of Highlands Road is the
partially developed Solihull Business Park, further to the north-west along Highlands
Road are warehouse units. On the opposite side of Monkspath Hall Road is
residential development (Old Hall Gardens, Dunley Croft & Rainsbrook Drive)

The site has an overall depth of some 200m and a 150m frontage onto Highlands
Road. The vehicular access into the site is via an access 50m to the west of the
roundabout junction between Highlands Road/Monkspath Hall Road/entrance to
Solihull Business Park.

The site is currently occupied by three principal buildings, the largest of which
accommodates the David Lloyd Leisure Centre (4,270m2) and the now vacant Dave &
Busters unit (3,700m2). Two smaller units of 280m2 and 510m2 accommodate
restaurant occupiers that are now vacant. Car parking to accommodate some 448
vehicles is provided to the west of the site and to the north in a partially decked
manner.

There are three existing Tree Preservation Orders affecting the site (TPO 105, 109 and
211). TPO 109 (1986) affects three trees (one Oak and two Holly) just inset from the
western boundary of the site. TPO 105 (1986) affects a number of trees around the
former cinema and hotel boundary to the east of the leisure park. A number of these
trees (T32-T38), a mixture of Oak and Ash, are located on the boundary between the
Cinema complex and car park, and the existing Leisure Park car park. TPO 211
(1989) identifies area G1, which affects the same boundary between the Leisure Park
car park, and the Cinema complex, and protects a non-specific group of trees,
including Cedar, Oak, Holly, Ash and Hawthorn on this boundary.

The site is located in an out-of-centre location.

MAIN ISSUES

The key issues in determining this application relate to:

      Retail planning policy
      Design
      Transportation


                                                                             Page 6
      Trees & ecology

APPRAISAL

RETAIL POLICY

RPG11 – Regional Planning Guidance for the West Midlands (2004) (Regional
Spatial Strategy)

The policies of the RSS that are particularly relevant to this application include:

PA11 - The Network of Town and City Centres - This establishes a network of
strategic town and city centres that are „to be the focus for major retail developments
(10,000m2 or above)‟. Solihull town centre is identified as a strategic town centre.

PA13 - Out of Centre Retail Development states:

       “It is not envisaged that any further large scale (10,000 m2 gross) out of
       centre retail developments or extensions to existing developments will be
       required during the plan period covered by this RPG”

Solihull Unitary Development Plan 2006

The site has no site-specific allocation in the UDP, however it is subject to a number
of other policies.

In terms of retail, the UDP draws attention to recent changes including the substantial
Touchwood shopping and leisure scheme, which opened in September 2001. It also
suggests that Shirley town centre remains vulnerable to increasing competition from
out of centre retailing in, or near the A34.

In this context the UDP presents modified policies on out-of-centre retailing that
embrace current national guidance on need, the sequential test and accessibility more
fully than those contained within the previous UDP.

Policy S9 - Out of Centre Retail Developments states:

       “The Council is committed to sustaining the vitality and viability of existing
       Town Centres as the appropriate location for a wide variety of activities
       including retailing, public assembly, leisure, business and other major trip
       generating activities. The development of large, out-of-centre food or nonfood
       retail developments will normally be resisted.

       However, positive consideration may be given to allowing the principle of
       such developments outside town centres where:-

               i) The development is justified in terms of satisfying an unmet local
               need;
               ii) It is clearly demonstrated, having regard for the need for flexibility
               in format, scale, car parking and scope for dissagregation of the


                                                                                Page 7
               development, that the majority of goods to be sold cannot be sold from
               a town centre location;
               iii) It is demonstrated that the development will not have a significant
               adverse impact on the vitality and viability of existing town centres
               including Solihull, Shirley and Chelmsley Wood town centres or their
               ability to serve the needs of local people;
               iv) There are no suitable alternative sites within or adjacent to existing
               town centres. Where an edge-of-centre development is proposed,
               measures to integrate it into the existing center will be required;
               v) The development is easily accessible by a choice of transport modes
               and will particularly encourage access by public transport, walking
               and cycling;
               vii) The development will not have a significant adverse impact on the
               function of local centres, or local shops, in providing for local day to
               day needs; and
               viii) The development is not in conflict with other policies of this Plan.

       Planning applications for out-of-centre retail development will need to be
       accompanied by detailed evidence to address these criteria.”

PPS6 - Planning for Town Centres

At a national level, the Government‟s policies on retail development are set out in
Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6), „Planning for Town Centres‟ (2005). The key
objective of PPS6 set out in paragraph 1.3 is:

       “to promote the vitality and viability of town centres by planning for the
       growth and development of existing centres; and promoting and enhancing
       existing centres, by focussing development in such centres and encouraging a
       wide range of services in a good environment, accessible to all.”

PPS6 reinforces the key tests and criteria that proposals for town centre uses should
be measured against. Paragraph 3.4 requires that applicants should demonstrate:

                 The need for the development
                 That the development is of an appropriate scale
                 That there are no more central sites for the development
                 That there are no unacceptable impacts on existing centres
                 That locations are accessible

The assessment of need for proposed developments is set out in paragraphs 2.32 –
2.40 of PPS6. Paragraph 2.33 states that that:

       „In assessing the need and capacity for additional retail development, local
       planning authorities should place greater weight on quantitative need for
       additional floorspace for the specific types of retail and leisure developments.
       However local planning authorities should also take account of qualitative
       considerations.‟




                                                                               Page 8
The sequential approach to site selection is outlined in paragraphs 3.13 to 3.19 of
PPS6. This approach requires that locations are considered firstly within „appropriate
existing centres, and then edge of centre locations and then out of centre sites with
preference given to sites that are, or will be well served by public transport‟. The
approach also requires applicants to „demonstrate flexibility in terms of the scale and
format of the development as well as the provision of car parking and the scope for
disaggregation‟.

The assessment of impact is outlined in paragraphs 3.20 to 3.23 of PPS6. Where a
main town centre use is proposed in an edge of centre or out of centre location, as is
the case with the application site, the key tests include:

                 Impact on the Spatial Planning Strategy
                 Impact on future public and private sector investment that is needed
                  to safeguard the vitality and viability of the centres
                 Impact on the vitality and viability of existing centres
                 Impact on the range of services provided by the centres that could
                  be affected
                 Impact on number of vacant properties in the primary shopping
                  area
                 Impact on the quality, attractiveness, physical condition and
                  character of the centres

The applicant‟s case

B&Q currently operate from two types of retail store; the B&Q Superstore and the
B&Q Warehouse. There are in the order of 338 B&Q stores nation-wide with 112 (by
the end of 2004) operated as Warehouses which range between 9,290 m2 and 16,000
m2. Warehouse stores also cater for trade customers which account for 20-25% of
sales.

The retail assessment undertaken by the applicant focuses on a catchment area based
on a 10 minute drive from the application site. The provision of B&Q type goods
within the catchment area is found primarily within out-of-centre retail warehouses,
e.g. B&Q at Solihull Retail Park and Homebase at Sears Retail Park.

In commenting upon issues regarding the size of the store the applicant has indicated
the following:

       PPS6 indicates that while considering the issue of flexibility in terms of a
       retailer‟s modus operandi, disaggregation should not be taken to mean
       distributing the components of the store over a number of sites. At paragraph
       3.18 it states:

       „A single retailer or leisure operator should not be expected to split their
       proposed development into separate sites where flexibility in terms of scale,
       format, car parking provision and the scope disaggregation has been
       demonstrated. It is not the intention of this policy to seek the arbitrary sub
       division of proposals. Rather it is to ensure that consideration is given as to



                                                                               Page 9
          whether there are elements which could reasonably and successfully be
          located on a separate sequentially preferable site or sites.‟

The starting point for the consideration of any application for retail development (new
stores and extensions) is a demonstration of “need”. This can be expressed in terms of
both qualitative and quantitative need. In the consideration of the application
proposals, the qualitative case is particularly relevant due to the need to address
current qualitative deficiencies in the operation of the existing B & Q store at Solihull
Retail Park, approximately 1km to the north of the application site.

A number of problems are identified in the operation of the existing B&Q store such
as restricted size leading to inability to stock a full range of products, can‟t capitalize
on seasonal products, unable to store enough products, restricted service yard,
entrance is unwelcoming & cramped, limited tills, etc. These point to a qualitative
need for an improvement. Furthermore, they believe that other DIY stores in the
within the catchment area are demonstrating heavy volumes of customers and there is
evidence of overtrading.

The implications of a paucity of DIY provision were recently considered by the
Secretary of State in relation to a called in proposal for a B & Q Warehouse store at
Cribbs Causeway near Bristol The Secretary of State‟s Inspector stated at para 5.22 of
his Report that:

          “…the existing outlets in this area are relatively small and date from the
          1980‟s or early 1990‟s. They reflect the requirements of the market as it was
          at that time. However, there have subsequently been substantial innovations in
          DIY practice. These are exemplified by the greater range of stock that the
          proposed store would carry; by the improved services and customer facilities
          that it would offer; and by the employment of experts to give advice, assist
          with design, and demonstrate techniques. Innovation on this scale cannot be
          achieved in small, dated retail warehouse units. It is one of the objectives of
          PPG6 to maintain a competitive and innovative retail sector …. in my view
          there is a clear need for a facility of the type and scale proposed.”

In terms of quantitative need the assessment‟s methodology includes:

             Definition of a suitable study area, i.e. the primary catchment area of the
              store;
             Calculation of the existing and projected population,
             Calculation of the expenditure capacity on both comparison goods and
              more specifically the DIY retail sector;
             Estimation of the turnover capacity of the existing and committed
              comparison goods and DIY floorspace in the catchment area;
             Comparison of the levels of available expenditure and turnover with the
              existing and committed comparison goods and DIY sector floorspace.

Figures provided with the assessment quantify the expenditure capacity through
comparing the turnover of the existing facilities against available comparison and DIY
goods spending power within the study area. This conventional capacity assessment
considers the balance between the total available spending in the area (i.e. customer


                                                                                 Page 10
demand) and the average level of turnover achieved by existing floorspace at the date
of the assessment (i.e. expenditure supply). Put simply, if demand (expenditure
capacity) exceeds supply (turnover of retail floorspace) it can be concluded that there
is a demonstrative quantitative justification for additional retail floorspace.

The assessment sets out the available expenditure on comparison goods for the study
area, calculated by multiplying the population count by expenditure per capita in each
zone. In 2005, £264m of expenditure is available to be spent, within the 10 minute
drive time catchment, on comparison goods rising to £307.2m and £319m in the years
2009 and 2010 respectively. Consequently, it is demonstrated that expenditure on
comparison goods is projected to rise from today‟s date to 2009 by £43.1m and by
£55.0m by 2010.

In terms of DIY goods, the available expenditure on DIY goods for the study area is
noted as follows. In 2005, £33.1m of expenditure is available to be spent on DIY and
gardening goods rising to £38.6m and £40.0m in the years 2009 and 2010
respectively. It is estimated that there will be an increase in available expenditure for
DIY and gardening goods in the study area over the study period 2005 to 2009 of
£5.4m assuming expenditure continues to grow at the projected rate (i.e. 3.7% per
annum). By 2010 expenditure on DIY goods will have risen by a further £1.5m.

The turnover capacity of the established and committed comparison retail floorspace
in the 10 minute drive time catchment area is considered to be in the order of £113.2m
and £92.8m respectively. By comparison, the expenditure capacity on comparison
goods at today‟s date (£264.0m) exceeds the current turnover capacity of the
comparison goods retail floorspace by £59.6m, which by 2009 will have risen to a
surplus of £86.9m and a further surplus of £104.2m by 2010.

On a sectoral DIY retail basis, expenditure available in 2005 far outstrips the turnover
of the existing retail floorspace by circa £14m. It demonstrates that by 2009, having
taken account of the proposals, (as well as the reoccupation of the existing B & Q at
Solihull Retail Park) there is a remaining surplus expenditure capacity on DIY goods
of £6.3m, rising further to £7.7m by 2010. This sectoral analysis of retail expenditure
capacity supports the findings of the applicant‟s surveys, which show that the existing
retail floorspace is over trading.

Given the significant level of expenditure surplus, and the operational inadequacies
and overtrading of the existing B & Q store (Solihull Retail Park) it is clear that the
retail floorspace does not meet customer needs and demands. Furthermore, there are
no other proposed dedicated DIY stores to meet the specific sectoral need identified
above, and in particular the paucity of the existing DIY retail provision. It is evident
that the retail facilities within the catchment area have failed to keep up with the rising
and more discerning demands of the modern DIY customer.

In terms of the sequential analysis , it is of relevance to the Council‟s consideration of
this issue that the Council have recently appraised the availability, suitability and
viability of alternative sites within Solihull and Shirley Town Centres in relation to
the redevelopment of the Evans Halshaw site for retail warehousing (ref 2003/1099).
The Council concluded that (at that time) there were no suitable and available sites
within the principal areas of Solihull for the development of retail warehousing. This


                                                                                Page 11
application was considered at a Public Inquiry; it is of relevance to this application by
B & Q that in relation to the sequential test the Inspector concluded:

       „that there are currently no sequentially preferable sites that could
       accommodate the proposed development within a reasonable time period.‟

At the inquiry two potential sites were considered, namely Powergen and the general
site for the new foodstore in accordance with proposal S4/1 of the UDP First Review.
The applicant has further assessed the suitability of the two sites in light of the
passage of time and conclude that the Shirley Town Square site is unavailable to
accommodate new DIY retail floorspace, as it is targeted for a food store in the
Solihull UDP Review. In terms of the Powergen site there is uncertainty surrounding
the short term availability of the site and the remediation costs of the site would
extremely expensive. Redevelopment of the two sites is unlikely to become available
within a reasonable timescale, therefore in PPS6 terms they are unavailable.

The established retail hierarchy is dominated by 2 larger centres (Solihull and Shirley)
which are supported by a number of smaller shopping centres. However, the smaller
shopping centres are primarily concerned with meeting the daily and weekly
convenience retail needs of their local populous, there is unlikely to be any material
trade draw from the proposals on the smaller centres. Furthermore, within the larger
centres, DIY retail representation is limited , and in some cases the DIY retail
floorspace represents only part of the retail offer of some of the retailers within the
centres. Those town centre shops dedicated to the home improvement sector, are
generally independent, and tend to be situated in secondary locations. Their business
rationale often depends on providing a mix of convenience and personal services to a
local catchment, frequently in conjunction with such activities as repairs, sharpening,
key cutting, etc. Such shops have proved to operate in parallel with main stream DIY
superstores, which tend to cater for more bulky, project based, home improvement
needs. as is evident from visits to any of the existing DIY stores within the catchment
area, the existing floorspace is overtrading, and in the case of the B & Q store is
particularly heavily congested. The scale of need identified, and the fact that the
proposal can be comfortably accommodated within the expenditure capacity is
indicative that no material trade impact will occur as part of this development. The
household survey also demonstrates that the majority of people undertaking some sort
of DIY shop, primarily visit dedicated DIY retail warehouses within the catchment.
Few people rely upon shops within the town centres of the area. The household survey
illustrates the significant share of expenditure on DIY goods that is spent in retail
warehouses, in contrast to the limited shopping visits to town centres for DIY goods
purchases. This in itself demonstrates that the application proposals will not have an
adverse effect on the established centres, and that almost exclusive trade of the new B
& Q Warehouse store would be drawn from other out of centre retail warehouses.

West Midlands Regional Assembly

The Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 establishes the Regional Planning
Bodies as a statutory consultee for regionally significant planning applications,
allowing them to comment on applications with regard to their general conformity
with the Regional Spatial Strategy. The West Midlands Regional Assembly comment
on this application as follows:


                                                                               Page 12
       “In summary the Regional Conformity Advisor‟s view is that the application appears, prima
       facie, to be in breach of RSS policies PA11 and PA13. However, given the planning history
       of the site and the nature of the proposed DIY retailing operation, the initial analysis would
       suggest that this particular proposals, will not have an adverse impact on the 25 centres
       identified in PA11.

       In view of this and taking into account all comments received, the RCA‟s
       „interim‟ view is that the proposal is in general conformity with and will not
       significantly compromise the implementation of the Regional Spatial Strategy.

       Set against this background, the West Midlands Regional Assembly (as the
       Regional Planning Body) can confirm that the above application is considered
       to be in general conformity with the Regional Spatial Strategy subject to and
       without prejudice to the subsequent and detailed assessment and opinion.”

Analysis and Conclusions on Retail Policy

In terms of the applicant‟s assessment I wish to highlight the following matters with
regard to their assumptions &assertions:

It is noted that the 10 minute catchment has been drawn up having regard to B&Q
trading data at the existing B&Q stores in Solihull, Erdington and Redditch, as well as
being underpinned by a household survey. It is accepted that the surrounding B&Q
stores will influence the catchment for the proposed store and that a proportion of the
stores trade will be drawn from beyond this area. In respect of the proposed
application DTZ, commissioned to provide expert advice to the Council, accepts that
it is reasonable for the applicants to suggest that 80% of the stores trade will be drawn
from a ten minute drive time.

Multiplying per capita expenditure levels by population estimates yields total
available catchment spending. The applicants set this out for three years – 2005, 2009
and 2010. The expenditure on comparison goods within the study area is shown as
growing by £43.1m from 2005 (£264m) to 2009 (£307.2m). The expenditure on DIY
goods within the study area is shown as growing by £5.4m from 2005 (£33.1m) to
2009 (£38.6m). DTZ is satisfied that the applicants have properly estimated
expenditure growth based on the assumptions made on market growth.

Making reference to evidence presented at the Pendragon (Evans Halshaw) Inquiry,
market data and their own experience the applicant‟s calculate expenditure capacity to
exceed turnover capacity for comparison goods by £59.6m in 2005, which is predicted
to rise by £27.3m to £86.9m by 2009. Company average turnover rates have been
applied to calculate turnover capacity of DIY retail goods. It is stated that in 2005
expenditure capacity exceeds turnover capacity by £14.3m. Furthermore, it is
calculated that the growth in expenditure to 2009 would be capable of accommodating
the proposed development and maintaining a surplus of available expenditure of
£6.3m in 2009. DTZ consider these calculations to be reasonable and accurate.

In terms of provision, the applicant‟s point to a „deficit in DIY retail floor space‟,
which the application scheme could address. DIY provision within the catchment
currently includes B&Q, Homebase, Wickes and a number of independent DIY


                                                                                           Page 13
operators as well as a number of „stand alone‟ garden centre operators. I note that
there has not been DIY retail warehouses developed in the catchment in over ten years
and that the there have been innovations in DIY retail practice during this period.

The applicants have indicated that the stores within the catchment area „demonstrate
signs of heavy volumes of customers and there is evidence of over trading which is
supported by the trading evidence of B&Q at their Solihull store‟. I would agree that
this does reinforce the assertion that there is quantitative need for additional DIY
retail floor space.

In terms of alternative sites, I would agree with the view expressed that „the nature of
the retail market that B&Q seeks to serve, should be taken into account in the
sequential approach.‟ Furthermore the sequential test must have regard to the nature
of the need to be fulfilled – it is not enough simply to say that in theory all goods can
be sold in town centres. As part of the application submission, reference has been
made to a report by CBRE (2002) assessing the B&Q Warehouse concept and its
juxtaposition with the planning system. It concluded that „The nature of the need
identified in this case can only be satisfied by a store which is large enough to
address the significant surplus of expenditure relative to capacity, and is of sufficient
scale to offer the qualitative advantages of modern DIY provision, which are
generally lacking in the catchment area and cause operational problems to the
Company (B&Q) in their existing store.‟

In examining the effect that the B&Q scheme may have on competing provision, I
have considered these key questions, namely; which stores and centres are likely to be
affected ? What will the extent of the impact be? What will the implications of this
impact be?

On the evidence available to me, I conclude that trade diversion will relate only to
comparison goods retailing and that much of the trade diversion will be from the
existing B&Q store and from the other out of centre retail warehouses, which are not
of material interest. However, existing centres within the catchment may also be
affected to a varying degree, principally Solihull and Shirley. It is estimated that
£2.7m will be drawn from town and local centres within the catchment which, in the
context of overall turnover is not significant. Further, the impact will be spread across
the catchment area and so the impact on each of the centres will be comparatively low
and they can be expected to be recovered by growth in spending over a short period.
The proposed development on its own is therefore unlikely to undermine the vitality
and viability of any centre as a whole.

In summary, I believe that the applicant has adequately assessed need (both
quantitative and qualitative) for the proposed development and that the requirements
of the sequential test in that they have properly considered the dissagregation of the
proposed development have been met. Furthermore the impact of this scheme for
centres of material interest would not be significant. Therefore the material tests of
the UDP relating to out-of-centre retailing have been met and I would not raise any
objections to the proposal on this basis. If permission were to be granted, it would of
course be necessary to restrict the goods sold from the development and that this
should be based upon the justification for the need for the development, i.e. restriction
to DIY and associated goods only.


                                                                               Page 14
Shopping Directions

If members are minded to approve the application, then under the Shopping
Directions the proposals would have to be referred to the Government Office for the
West Midlands to allow the First Secretary of State to consider the matter. Following
referral the application could be „called in‟ and be determined by the First Secretary
of State following an inquiry

DESIGN

PPS1 (Delivering Sustainable Development) is clear that good design is indivisible
from good planning. It states that design which is inappropriate in its context, or
which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality
of an area and the way it functions, should not be accepted.

“Planning for Town Centres: Guidance on Design and Implementation Tools” was
published at the same time as PPS6. Although it principally relates to planning for
town centres, some of its principles & guidance can be equally applicable to edge-of-
centre or even out-of-centre developments.

It advocates that development should:

      Normally be orientated so that it fronts the street;
      Respect building lines of the existing urban environment and, where
       appropriate, build up to the edge of the curtilage;
      Maximise the amount of active street frontage;
      Avoid designs which are inward looking and which present blank frontages;
      Provide level access from the public realm; and
      In the case of development in edge-of-centre locations, provide good
       pedestrian access to the centre.

It goes onto to state “developments with innovative layouts which maximise the use of
a site and, where appropriate, make use of multiple levels should be encouraged,
having regard to local context.”

With regard to parking the guidance states:

       “Large amounts of surface level parking are likely to detract from the overall
       appearance of a development and its surrounding area and are unlikely to
       maximise the development potential of available land.

       Car parking and service areas should be carefully located within a
       development so as to minimise visual impact. Car parking should normally be
       located to the rear, underneath or, where appropriate, above new
       development.

       Where surface car parking is proposed, this should be conceived within the
       overall landscape proposals for the development and link into the wider area.
       Multi-storey car parking should also be carefully designed and be well


                                                                              Page 15
       integrated with its surroundings. … Where rooftop car parking is proposed,
       lighting should be designed sensitively to minimise the level of light pollution
       to the surroundings.”

The application site is located at the interface between Monkspath housing estate, to
the south-east and Highlands Road business park, to the north, with some extensive
open space to the east. As a result of this interface it sits in an area that has a rather
ambiguous character, affected by distant views of industrial units and closer views of
residential, office and open space. A new office block has been developed on
adjacent land with a successful contemporary appearance utilising glazed and brick
façades and a pitched roof. Surrounding buildings are approximately three storey in
height (or equivalent) and are set back from the access road by between
approximately 5 and 15 metres and are provided with spaces around them. These
built forms provide a mixed appearance with common elements being their height, set
back, sub-urban development density, rooflines (with a variety of pitches) and
relatively active facades (windows to habitable / functioning space and access doors).

The design statement submitted with the application acknowledges that the site is
constrained by three significant issues (site proportions; visibility & perceived
accessibility; and lack of access from Stratford Road) that would typically impact
upon the viability of a commercial site. It describes a standard site that would
typically have a wide frontage facing onto the principal highway set behind a large
surface car park. The statement describes alternative siting options, including
servicing to the rear & car parking at the front (as described in relation to Highlands
Road being the front of the site) and car parking to the side with servicing to the rear.
However options did not appear to include accommodating a smaller sized
development.

The site is non-regular in its form, which clearly creates a development constraint and
appears to influence the logic of locating the service access, drop off and turning
facility to the north east, which is considered to be the „front‟ of the site. This is not
good urban design practice, although it is recognised that an attempt has been made to
screen this activity by placing staff rooms and landscape to the fore.

The store occupies the central part of the site with a decked car parking solution to the
south east, wrapped to the front by office space at 1st / 2nd floor. This has been
utilised as a tactic to reduce the visual impact of the car park, and in that regard works
quite successfully.

However the main concern regarding layout and design is how the store, decked car
park and service buildings in combination dominate the site. Landscape is a relatively
„left over‟ component of the design at the relatively small peripheral areas around the
proposed building, and as such there is a concern regarding over development. The
development layout appears to be a product of a commercial brief, rather than looking
at the acceptable development capacity of the site, particularly given the rather more
spacious character of surrounding developments.

The applicants have made attempts to mitigate these problems, but it is felt these
exercises have highlighted rather than ameliorated concerns mentioned above. In



                                                                                Page 16
addition to concerns for bulk, scale & massing, it is also important to consider how a
proposed building responds to and interacts with its context.

The proposed building is, through its commercial requirements, very bulky. The
frontage onto Highlands Road is a continuous 15 m high façade flat roof with two
large box like B&Q signs to either end, which exacerbate the visible bulkiness of the
frontage. The front façade design changes (office uses wrapping part of the front
elevation) assist in breaking down this bulkiness, but to a limited degree. There is
limited active frontage at ground level and office accommodation is restricted to the
upper levels and the front section of the garden centre deck remains exposed &
prominently positioned.

Concern also remains over the appearance and extent of the decked car park, and the
service access and turning area to the front of the site. It would be preferable if service
traffic turning movements should be to the rear of the store, although it is recognised
that this would restrict the sites development capacity.

Whilst soft landscape areas have increased from the current site to the proposed, the
perception of the landscape / building relationship is that the proposed built form
(store, decked car park and service) dominates the landscape setting in a way that the
existing buildings do not.

It is considered that the overall bulk, scale, massing and positioning of the building &
car parking results in a development that is out of context with its surroundings and
will appear over dominant thus causing a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of
the area which would be contrary to policy ENV2 of the Unitary Development Plan
2006.

TREES & ECOLOGY

The more significant landscaping elements are towards the boundaries of the site, in
particular the southeast & northwest that mark old-field boundaries. With the
proposed building structures themselves moving closer to these boundaries (including
the ramped access to the car park) this will result in the loss of a number of trees. The
views of your Landscape Architect upon the latest amended plans will be reported at
Committee.

The landscape features & site have also been assessed in light of their possible
contribution towards ecological value, including use as a corridor feature. However
no evidence has been identified to suggest that the site is important in this respect.

TRANSPORTATION

National Planning guidance on transport matters is provided in PPG13. The aim of
PPG13, stated in paragraph 4, is to integrate planning and transport at the national,
regional, strategic and local level with the objective to:

      Promote more sustainable transport choices for both people and moving
       freight



                                                                                Page 17
      Promote accessibility to jobs, shopping leisure facilities and services by public
       transport, walking and cycling, and
      Reduce the need to travel, especially by car

In assessing the transportation implications of the proposed development, it is
important to consider the existing & potential use of the site in its present state - i.e.
the reuse of the vacant elements of the site for other restaurant and D2 (assembly &
leisure) uses. This is not only in the context of the number of traffic movements, but
also the characteristics of such movements (e.g. likely peak hour).

Public Transport

The Transport Assessment submitted by the applicants identifies 6 bus routes within
easy walking distance of the site and there are bus stops in the immediate vicinity.
These together with two train stations within 3km enable an opportunity for staff &
customers to access the site as importantly the services run at times when the store is
open. However not all of the services are particularly frequent and there is limited
availability on a Sunday.

Although it remains theoretically possible to get to and from the site by public
transport, if the journeys take some time, accessibility is not as good as has been
indicated. The only regular all week bus on Monkspath Hall Road is the no. 4 which
is 20 mins from Solihull Station and 10 mins from Widney Manor. The latter has a 20
minute local service pattern which does not integrate well with half hourly buses.
Solihull Station additionally has London trains and many other bus services for
interchange. In the other direction the 4 follows an indirect route into Birmingham
City Centre, taking a little over an hour. Along Stratford Road is the 166 which takes
about 15 mins to Solihull Station, and mainly offers a half hourly service.

Therefore the site of the proposed development is not nearly as accessible by
sustainable transport as the existing site in Marshall Lake Road which is better served
by bus, has better links to rail services and is closer to larger residential populations.
However the applicants have suggested that as part of the process of submitting a
travel plan, bus services linking the site to Solihull town centre could be provided as
part of a new shuttle bus link or diversion of existing services. This would certainly
improve accessibility and should be considered a requirement if Members are minded
to approve the application.

Cycling & Walking

Local pedestrian &cycling facilities are generally good with street lighting & well
maintained footways/cycleways. Furthermore a Travel Plan has been submitted with
the proposals which seek to encourage the use of sustainable modes of travel.

Car Parking

PPG13 indicates that car parking to be provided at non-food retail developments
should be a maximum of 1 space per 20m2, this would give an allowance of 935
spaces. The provision of 500 spaces is therefore well below the maximum threshold.



                                                                                 Page 18
Highways

The TA sought to establish the likely impact on the link flow volumes on the local
highway network by a comparative analysis of the change in two-way traffic flow on
each link for the Friday AM & PM peaks and Saturday peak periods. Generally, the
results of this analysis predicted only limited changes in network traffic volumes as a
result of the proposed development, with the greatest increase during the Friday peak
periods (approximately 25%) predicted on the section of Highlands Road to the east
of the site access against the 2006 Base PM peak scenario.

A detailed comparative junction capacity study analysis was undertaken in the TA
that indicated that the development would have no demonstrable impact during the
weekday peak periods and that all junctions within the study network would continue
to operate within the capacity during the Saturday peak period.

In addition a junction capacity sensitivity analysis was undertaken. This predicted
that generally the site access junction, the Highlands Road/Monkspath Hall Road
roundabout and junction 4 of the M42would be able to accommodate the resultant
increase in traffic, but that the Monkspath Hall Road/Stratford Road roundabout
would be operating considerably over capacity in its present from.

Your Highways Officer and the Highways Agency agree with the TA‟s conclusion
that there would not be a significant impact at junction 4 of the M42.

Your Highways Officer also point out that at busy times, mainly Saturdays, there
could be considerable queuing at the site access, mainly by vehicles trying to exit the
site. In general this is the right place for such queues to occur. However there is a risk
that this could cause blockage within the site, causing entering vehicles to queue as
well. This problem could be resolved by the installation of traffic signals at the site
entrance. However this would be an over-elaborate solution to what would be likely
to be an intermittent problem and I suggest we retain the priority junction principle for
the site access. Therefore there are no objections to this aspect of the proposed
development

The Monkspath Hall/Highlands Road junction has recently been enlarged to
accommodate Solihull Business Park traffic. The applicant‟s TA identified a problem
with potentially very long queue forming on the approach from Stratford Road during
the morning peak period and proposed a part time partially signalised solution to
resolve this. However this proposal was not acceptable to your Highway Officer as
and he advises not to seek modifications to the junction at this stage.

The Stratford Road/Monkspath Hall Road junction operates without spare capacity at
peak times.

During the busier pm peak hours, the relatively small percentage increase in traffic
due to the B&Q development will result in a disproportionately large increase in
queue length and delay on the Monkspath Hall Road approach - such that it would be
likely also to obstruct the Highlands Road junction.




                                                                               Page 19
The applicants have offered a contribution of £500,000 towards the cost of upgrading
the junction. However there is no agreed design for the junction improvements and
therefore there is no available estimate of the likely total cost and no timetable to its
likely implementation. Given the uncertainty of the nature, cost and timing of the
necessary improvements, I would not consider it reasonable to restrict the opening of
the store until works have been completed (in a Grampian style condition) as it would
not pass the test of reasonableness or be capable of completion during the lifetime of
the permission (i.e. 3 years). Therefore it is necessary to consider the operation of the
as it stands. As noted above, the junction now operates without spare capacity at peak
times. I believe the development would therefore have a significant impact on the
operation of the junction to the detriment of the safety and free flow of traffic with no
immediate prospects for its remedy, and therefore I would recommend that the
application is refused on highway grounds

CONCLUSION

This application seeks approval for the redevelopment of the Dave & Busters & David
Lloyd site located off Highland Road near its junction with Monkspath Hall Road &
Stratford Road. The proposal will provide for DIY store & garden centre of some
18,707 sq. m and will be provided in a two storey format with a decked car park. The
development will allow the relocation of the existing B&Q store to take place from
Marshall Lake Road.

The site is located in an out-of-centre location whereas the thrust of both National &
Local planning policy seeks to focus development in town centres. However, both
PPS6 & UDP policy S9 do allow for retail development out-of-centres provided that
certain criteria are met. Essentially these relate to the demonstration of need (both
qualitative & quantitative), flexibility of format, no adverse impact upon existing
town centres, no sequentially preferable sites being available and it is in a accessible
location.

The applicants have submitted a retail assessment including a supplemental report
following the identification of a number issues. The reports conclude that the policy
tests have been met and this is a view I concur with. I would therefore not raise any
objections to the development on retail policy grounds.

With regard to design it is noted that the site has a number of constraints. The
applicants have sought to make efficient use of the site which has resulted in the two
storey nature of the development (including car parking) which covers much of the
site. This should be considered in the context of its surroundings, which although is
varied, is generally of a three storey nature, set back from the road and with space
around the buildings. The main concern regarding layout is how the store, decked car
park and service buildings dominate the site. Landscape is a relatively „left over‟
component of the design, and there is a concern regarding over development

Despite the detailed investigations & amendments undertaken by the architect, the
perceived bulkiness of the proposal, does not fit successfully into the character of the
surrounding area, due to its massing and perceived density of development being out
of context to the sites surroundings and a lack of activity on key frontages. As such I
believe that the proposed development would appear over dominant and incongruous


                                                                                Page 20
and have a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the area which would be
contrary to policy ENV2 of the Unitary Development Plan 2006.

The traffic generated by the development needs to be considered in terms of its impact
upon junctions in the vicinity of the site. In this respect of particular concern is the
operation of the Monkspath Hall Road & Stratford Road junction which already
operates at capacity at peak times. The nature of the traffic flows associated with the
development need to be considered. In general the traffic attraction will be low (but
not negligible) during the morning peak period (mainly staff and trade customers) but
busier in the evening peak as customers divert to the store on their way home. The
busiest times would be likely to be at weekends when the roads in the immediate area
otherwise tend to be quieter.

During the busier pm peak hours, the relatively small increase in traffic due to the
B&Q development will result in a disproportionately large increase in queue length
and delay on the Monkspath Hall Road approach (of its junction with Stratford Road),
such that it would be likely also to obstruct the Highlands Road junction.

An improvement scheme to the junction could overcome this concern and the
applicants have offered a commuted sum towards the costs of a comprehensive
scheme. However there is no approved scheme to judge this contribution against, nor
is there a timetable for its implementation. Given the uncertainties with a necessary
junction improvement and in the absence of an approved scheme refusal on highway
grounds is warranted

RECOMMENDATION

For the reasons outlined above I recommend refusal of the application.




              (1) As a result of the overall bulk, scale, massing and positioning of the building & car
              parking and the lack of visual interest and activity of its frontage to Highlands Road, the
              proposed development would be out of context with its surroundings, and will appear over
              dominant and incongruous thus causing a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the
              area which would be contrary to policy ENV2 of the Unitary Development Plan 2006.
              (2) The proposed development would result in additional traffic at the junction of Monkspath
              Hall Road and Stratford Road which already operates without spare capacity at peak times.
              The proposed development would therefore have a detrimental impact on the efficient
              operation of the junction thus impacting upon the free flow of traffic on the highway
              network.
              NOTE: For the avoidance of doubt this decision refers to the plans as follows: Plan
              Number(s): 0122 100 REV F, 0122 101 REV F, 0122 202 REV D, 0122 300 REV D, 0122
              505 REV C.




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