Planning Inspector dismisses Halifax drive-through coffee shop plan appeal

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal by a company wanting to demolish and redevelop a former car sales site into two drive-through coffee shops or restaurants.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 6:00 am

Hallmark Developments (North West) Limited wanted to demolish the existing buildings at Dews Motor Group Limited Northgate, to build the shops with car parking and ancillary retail sales.

But in May 2020 the council refused permission because the development was considered not to preserve the setting of the nearby listed buildings and character and appearance of the adjacent Town Centre Conservation Area in line with its planning guidelines.

The council also considered the proposal would not ensure safe movement by pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists, also against its guidelines.

Site of the former Dews garage, Northgate, Halifax.
Site of the former Dews garage, Northgate, Halifax.

Before the appeal hearing in May 2021 the council withdrew a requested condition which would limit the hours of operation.

That left the main issues Planning Inspector Zoe Raygen considered as highway safety and the effect of the proposal on the setting of nearby listed buildings at Northgate, North Parade, North Bridge and a drinking fountain, and on Halifax’s Town Centre Conservation Area.

She concluded that the impact on the setting of the listed buildings and Town Centre Conservation area would not be harmed.

Ms Raygen also believed there were undoubted economic benefits brought by the proposals, including creation of around 90 new jobs, which she called “considerable”.

But she said concerns about highway impact remained, including access to and egress from the site, potential increase in traffic and the nature of road junctions close to the site.

“Given the likely level of traffic at peak hour, conditions would exist that could cause material harm to the safe and efficient operation in the highway network in the vicinity of the appeal site.

“This may increase driver frustration and lead to them attempting to leave or enter the appeal site when circumstances may not be safe for all road users,” she said.

Ms Raygen said the harm to highway safety brings it into fundamental conflict with the council’s planning policy BE5 (highway design) and therefore the development plan as a whole.

“Whilst I was advised that there are other options available for access to the appeal site, including a left in and left out option only, the appeal scheme was not promoted on that basis.

“Therefore, in the overall planning balance, although considerable, the benefits of the proposal are not sufficient in this case to outweigh the harm I have identified and the conflict with the development plan,” she said, and concluded the appeal must be dismissed.