Two decisions from the independent Planning Inspectorate have confirmed Torbay Council’s decisions on Tesco’s proposed superstore at Edginswell and Bloors’ proposed Club House at Churston Golf Course.

The eagerly awaited decision on Tesco’s follows the council’s refusal of planning permission in September 2013 and a subsequent Public Inquiry. The decision not to allow the Tesco superstore provides support for the council’s and community’s plans for high quality office space on the site, as outlined in the new Local Plan and detailed in the Torquay Gateway masterplan.

The Inspector recognised there would be benefits from the proposal, such as jobs, greater consumer choice and new office space. But he agreed with the council that part of the site would be lost for employment use, the foodstore would not satisfy the sequential test (with a town centre site available) and would harm the town centre and local centres.

The sequential test looks to encourage retailers towards town centres and only allows out of town sites to be developed if there are no other suitable or available sites in the town centre. The Inspector considered the proposal would conflict with local and national planning policies relating to the economy and design.

Cllr David Thomas, Executive Lead for Strategic Planning, Housing and Energy, said: “This is an excellent, well balanced decision that fully justifies the council’s refusal of planning permission. It supports our plans for growth around Torquay Gateway, particularly for new, high quality office space in this prime location, especially when the South Devon Link Road is finished later this year. It also supports our and the community’s plans for redevelopment of the Town Hall Car Park in central Torquay.”

Earlier the same day the council received another eagerly awaited decision, on the proposed new club house at Churston Golf Course. Unless the decision is challenged by Bloors, this decision marks the end of a long and contentious battle for a new clubhouse.

The Inspector identified three main issues, namely the effect of the development on traffic flow and highway safety, the effect of the development on the character and appearance of the area and the effect on the ecology of the area. On each issue he agreed with the council’s position, which was also supported by the community.

The Inspector also agreed with advice given by the independent Torbay Design Review Panel that the impact of siting the clubhouse in an existing open area of the golf course would be detrimental to the landscape setting of the site. He thought the proposal would merge the developed areas on either side of the golf course, severing the connection to the open countryside. The Inspector judged that the development would harm the environment because of its harmful effect on Greater Horseshoe Bats and Badgers.

The Inspector recognised the benefits that would be associated with the development as it would facilitate housing on the existing clubhouse site, it would have benefits for recreation and leisure, job creation, tourism and there would be a more positive approach to managing the golf course. However he concluded that these benefits would not be sufficient to overcome the significant harm that would result from the development.

Cllr David Thomas continued to say: “This decision shows that, despite a number a factors such as new jobs and homes, the council was absolutely right to refuse planning permission. I commend my colleagues on the Development Management Committee for making such a good decision. This decision, when read alongside the recent reports from the Local Plan Inspector, sends out a very clear message that the high quality of Torbay’s environment and ecology must be given top priority.”

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