Horsham District Council has defended claims by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles that it could stop restaurants, such as the former St Leonard’s Arms site in Brighton Road, being turned into supermarket branches.
The claims were made in a letter to resident Mike Dancy who is campaigning against the Tesco Express store planned for the site. Mr PIckles said that altough change of use form a restaurant to a shop is classed as permitted develeopment, councils can use their own policies to overide it.
But an HDC spokesman said: “Whilst an Article 4 is an option, in practice this is only used in exceptional circumstances. In the case of the change of use from restaurant within Class A3 of the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order 2005 to Shop (within Class A1) is permitted development.
“If Horsham District Council wished to proceed with an Article 4 Direction it would need to demonstrate that a restriction on permitted development is warranted on the basis of the harm caused by the change.
“The threshold to demonstrate harm would be high, there would be a potential claim for compensation and the Council would need to defend the reason in planning terms in the event of a judicial review.
“In planning terms the impact arising from a change of use from restaurant to shop is recognised by the Government as being acceptable in land use terms hence it has been accepted as being permitted development for which no planning application is required.”