Scarborough Council’s planning officers say they are currently unable to make a recommendation on plans to build a Lidl supermarket on the former McCain Stadium site in Seamer Road.
The supermarket plan for the space will be used to fund the Weaponness Leisure Village but council planning chiefs are wary of a recent ruling against a neighbouring council and will leave the decision firmly in the hands of the planning committee, which meets to consider the application on Thursday next week.
Last month Ryedale Council was left facing a legal bill of around £400,000 after the High Court quashed a planning consent it granted for a supermarket to be built on council land.
The judge ruled that the planning committee in that case had been “mislead” by the report it had been given by officers when determining the decision.
However, in a report that will go before Scarborough’s planning committee, its officers have highlighted the impact that refusing the application would have on the plans for a new football stadium and the Coventry University and Scarborough UTC facilities at Weaponness.
The report states: “In assessing this application officers have been mindful of a recent case in Malton where the High Court quashed the decision of Ryedale Council to grant planning permission for a supermarket on its own land and was required it to pay legal costs.
“While circumstances are not identical, the case also involved objections from a private landowner whose view was that a site in their ownership was sequentially preferable.
“Among the reasons why the judge found against the Council were that the Planning Committee had been misled in respect of a previous Inspector’s conclusions on the claimant’s site regarding its sequential ranking.
“This report has therefore sought to clearly present the impact of the proposals on planning policy and any other material considerations in a thorough and balanced manner.“
The report notes that work on the two education facilities must start by September, which is why the committee will consider the application next week. The report adds that under “normal circumstances” the decision would be deferred until a later date.
The author adds that there is a “finely balanced” case between the reasons for refusal and approval and the case for building the supermarket “could” justifiably override the strong local and national retail planning policy objections that arise from the failure of this proposal to pass the sequential test.
The sequential test relates to the applicant’s ability to prove there are no other more suitable sites in Scarborough where the supermarket could be built.
Recently plans for a cinema and restaurant development at the former Atlantis site in North Bay was refused by the council’s planning committee as it was felt the applicant had not been able to show the plans passed the sequential test.
A recommendation will be put to the committee on Thursday when it meets.
Nick Read, Scarborough Borough Council Area Planning Manager said: “From a planning point of view, we have just received significant new information about the enabling role of the Lidl development to the delivery of the Leisure Village. Planning officers now need to carefully consider this information prior to making a recommendation to the planning and development committee.