National Office of CPRE Letter

The following is a letter sent by the National Office of CPRE to the Secretary of State. Nationally, the CPRE rarely get involved in local planning issues and have made an exception in our case, thanks partly to the newly relevant issues involved and a lot of behind the scenes work by key members of the “Campaign”.


Dear Mr Pickles

Secretary of State Call In. Planning Application for Superstore – Land West of Station Road, Newport, Shropshire (Telford and Wrekin Council). Local Authority Reference TWC/2011/0916

I understand that this major retail application has been referred to you under departure procedures and that you are currently considering whether to call it in.

The case has been drawn to my attention by members of CPRE who live in the Newport area. They are expressing serious concerns and pointing to the national policy issues raised by the case. It is being suggested that CPRE should see this as a test case on application of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Having looked at the position carefully I am writing to ask you to exercise your call in powers on this application. There are some important issues that justify taking the decision out of the Local Planning Authority’s hands and holding a planning inquiry.

CPRE is particularly concerned that this is a case where the NPPF is being used, overtly, by the local planning authority (owner of the application site) to justify a departure from the Development Plan. The Council’s decision that it is minded to approve appears to pay no regard to a very significant trade impact on established town centre supermarkets and on the many small businesses that thrive on the linked trips those food stores attract.

The Local Authority officer’s report says: “The proposed retail store has been fully considered and assessed to be in accordance with the NPPF”. It then quotes economic benefits and the creation of jobs, but gives no recognition to potential loss of jobs in other businesses.

Aside from all the normal town centre issues this case raises, CPRE research on local food webs* demonstrates how the network of small businesses that supply and distribute food relies on vital and viable town centres and the mixed economy of food shopping in those centres. The small remaining independent food supplier and trader network is a crucial part of the rural economy and is a bedrock of future food security.

I think this is an example of a case that will help define what the Government really means by sustainable development and how well it is able to ensure that local planning authorities strike the right balance between a superficial view that “any growth is good growth” and a proper consideration of all the economic, social and environmental factors that are involved in sustainable development.

Can I ask that you consider this case very carefully.

Yours Sincerely

John Hoad

Head of Planning, CPRE National Office

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