Sheffield’s top planner has been accused of using policies which were out of date or not yet finalised to refuse a proposed Next store.
David Caulfield, Sheffield Council head of planning, was quizzed by barrister Christopher Katowski QC on the second day of a public inquiry before a planning inspector.
The inquiry is being held after British Land, which owns the development site on Vulcan Road, Meadowhall, appealed against refusal of planning permission.
Mr Caulfield said the council’s previous planning policies restricted expansion of shopping to the city centre, with the proposed Sevenstone scheme and improvements to The Moor sufficient for future needs.
He said the council’s proposed development strategy for the next few years – not yet approved – was based on a forecast of falling demand due to internet sales.
Mr Katowski, for British Land, said GVA, the council’s planning consultants, had warned a policy on where to locate bulky-goods retailers ‘needed to be updated’.
GL Hearn had been appointed to update the policy – but is not due to report until September.
Mr Katowski said the council’s new development strategy for the next five years had not yet been approved and was subject to further consultation.
He told Mr Caulfield: “The GL Hearn study isn’t going to be published until September and you are going out to public consultation on the wider strategy.
“If anyone wants to test the council’s position they can’t yet.
“You don’t have up-to-date evidence.”
British Land said the only policy the council should use was the National Planning Policy Framework, which allows sustainable development, provided the benefits outweigh ‘adverse impacts’.
Mr Katowski said: “This proposal should be granted because there are no adverse impacts whereas there are significant benefits.”
Mr Caulfield said: “The inspector would also look at national policy on promoting town and city centres.”
The Next store would create 150 jobs and regenerate derelict land in a ‘deprived area’, the inquiry was told.
The hearing continues.