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Letter: Aldi Should Only Go To Burpham If There Is No Town Centre Site

Published on: 6 May, 2013
Updated on: 7 May, 2013

Aldi SignFrom Gerald Bland

When considering Aldi’s planning application for a store in Burpham, traffic issues should only come to the fore if the Green Man site is the right location for a supermarket. It manifestly is not.

Enshrined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) we now have a ‘town centre first’ policy (the sequential test) which requires planners to seek to locate supermarket sites in Guildford town centre.

The sequential test requires planners to look forward over a five to seven year time frame to see whether Aldi could be accommodated in one or more available sites centred on the High Street and North Street. If no available sites can be found there the exercise needs to be repeated with edge of centre sites, like the Bellerby, and beyond to areas such as Ladymead.

When the council’s decision notice on the Green Man planning application is published on its website I hope the community will see the NPPF sequential test correctly applied as one of the grounds for refusal. Let’s hope the council’s economic development team have already opened discussions with Aldi to see whether one of the 30 or more vacant and under utilised town centre sites could be utilised.

Relocating Aldi to the town centre would enhance Guildford’s retail offer and rid Burpham of a development the overwhelming majority do not want. It will also save all parties the costs of an appeal which is destined to fail if government policy is correctly applied.

Gerald Bland is a director of the Guildford Vision Group

See also: Aldi’s Planning for Burpham Site Refused In Chaotic Planning Meeting

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test 5 Responses to Letter: Aldi Should Only Go To Burpham If There Is No Town Centre Site

  1. C Stevens Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Shouldn’t the NPPF sequential test have already been correctly applied by the Planning Officer in arriving at her recommendation to approve the plan?

    Her report and the reasoning behind it can be viewed here:

    http://www2.guildford.gov.uk/4Interface/Acollate_docs/47575_13.pdf

  2. R. Lofthouse Reply

    May 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Reading Mr Bland’s letter has left me in a very confused state. Am I correct in thinking that GVG has just fought a long battle to deem the Bellerby site unfit to have a supermarket? Not sure why he feels an Aldi would be OK, but not a Waitrose.

    I live right next to the site and would personally really welcome a Waitrose. I could walk to it.

  3. Keith Reeves Reply

    May 31, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Reading the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) I haven’t seen anything to suggest that all development must take place preferentially in Guildford town centre. Does Mr Bland believe that a proposal for a pub/restaurant on the site should be refused as it should be in Guildford town centre, and that Sainsbury’s and Tesco should knock down their stores and re-locate to the town centre? Surely under the NPPF Burpham is a district or local centre in its own right thus subject to the same sequential test?

    • Gerald Bland Reply

      June 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      I fear Mr.Reeves has overlooked Section 2 of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) entitled “Ensuring the Vitality of Town Centres’.

      Paragraph 24 of that Section reads:-

      ‘ Local planning authorities should apply a sequential test to planning applications for main town centre uses that are not in an existing centre and are not in accordance with an up to date Local Plan. They should require applications for main town centre uses to be located in town centres, then in edge of centre locations and only if suitable sites are not available should out of centre sites be considered.’

      Main town centre uses are defined in Annex 2 of the NPPF to include ‘retail development’ and ‘the more intensive sport and recreation uses (including restaurants…bars and pubs…)’. Annex 2 also defines ‘edge of centre’ as ‘For retail purposes a location that is well connected and up to 300 metres of the primary shopping area….’

      As Guildford does not have an up to date Local Plan which might designate out of centre sites for retail/leisure uses NPPF would only allow a new pub/restaurant,Sainsburys or Tesco to be located in Burpham now if there were not sequentially preferable sites available in the town centre, then edge of centre sites and only then out of centre.

      I agree with Mr.Reeves that Burpham may be a local centre but what triggers the sequential test is a planning application for a ‘main town centre’ use which NPPF says should be directed to Guildford town centre so as to ensure its vitality.

      And in response to Mr.Lofthouse I am not advocating an Aldi at the edge of centre Bellerby Theatre site as there may well be sequentially preferable sites in the town centre – such as the former Argos store at the top of the High Street which is rumoured to have been recently acquired by another supermarket operator not represented in Guildford.

  4. Keith Reeves Reply

    June 13, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Mr Bland need have no worry of my overlooking Section 2. I had read and understood it before posting my response.

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