On this Wednesday,17 September 2014, starting at 2 pm in the Ballroom of ‘The Vic’ in Newport, the Planning Inspector will be holding a Preliminary Inquiry Meeting at which representatives on behalf of Telford and Wrekin Council, St. Modwen, the Save Newport Campaign and the owner of land off Audley Avenue , will all be in attendance.
Members of the public are allowed to attend but are not allowed to speak.


As background, a Preliminary Inquiry Meeting is one of the meetings called by an Inspector appointed to undertake a Planning Inquiry into a planning application.
In this case, the original application first launched in 2011 by St. Modwen and Telford and Wrekin Council for a Sainsbury’s superstore on a greenfield site owned by the Council off Station Road in Newport, was ‘called-in’ by the Secretary of State Eric Pickles, in part to consider whether the application would have a detrimental effect on the health and vitality of Newport High Street. The Planning Inquiry for this application was held at the beginning of 2013 but the Planning Inspector died suddenly before the Planning Inquiry concluded.
The Preliminary Inquiry Meeting to be held on 17 September 2014, is effectively the start of the process for a re-run of the Inquiry before a replacement Inspector. Both St. Modwen and the Council have insisted that the re-run Inquiry will take 4 weeks and it is scheduled to start on 20 January 2015.
As further background on the various superstore/food store applications, the application for a food store off Audley Avenue was not dealt with within the prescribed period by the Council and was thus taken to appeal by the applicant in front of a Planning Inspector in 2012, who found that according to government planning guidance, the brownfield site off Audley Avenue was preferable to the greenfield site off Station Road. St. Modwen and the Council appealed this decision to the High Court in 2013, where the judge upheld the decision of the Inspector and then to the Court of Appeal in April 2014, where three Court of Appeal judges upheld the decision of both the Planning Inspector and the High Court judge.
In recent times, the Council has approved an application for an Aldi store on the former Focus site off Audley Avenue but refused an application for a Lidl store on the Mere Park site. An Inspector at a Planning Inquiry in 2010, previously refused an application for a discount food store unit on the Mere Park site. Lidl have subsequently made clear that they still intend to open a store to serve Newport.

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