Whitebirk retail bid fails

A bid to expand Whitebirk Retail Park in Blackburn from purely bulky goods to general retail has failed after the High Court upheld restrictions.

The Peel Group had planned to add new food and clothing stores to the out-of-town site.

However, the company is restricted to bulky goods such as furniture and white goods in an effort to protect Accrington and Blackburn town centres. The change of use applications have been rejected by Hyndburn Council.

Although Peel felt it had a case, Hyndburn's decision was upheld by a government planning inspector, originally by the High Court in November last year and for a second time recently. Peel now plans to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

A spokesperson for Peel said: “Peel Land and Property Investments plc is naturally very disappointed with the outcome of the Court of Appeal in respect of the decision made concerning the legal effect of planning permissions obtained on individual units at the Peel Centre, Hyndburn.

"Peel will be seeking leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court at the earliest opportunity in order for that Court to review the position and give clarity to the legal uncertainty which now exists.

"In the meantime, Peel remains fully committed to its ownership and management of its retail park assets including Hyndburn, where on-going improvement and investment continues."

A spokesman for Hyndburn Borough Council said: "Fundamentally, the planning applications that were the subject of the challenge were not seeking a change of use of those units, but were seeking permission to undertake a variety of building works.

"The range of goods sold by those units will therefore continue to be restricted by the legal agreement that exists between Peel Investments and Hyndburn Borough Council. "The council is willing to work with Peel Investments to ensure that the Peel Centre is developed in a manner consistent with national and local planning policies but also in the open and transparent manner expected by the prescribed planning process."