AV Letter discussing differences in PPS6/PPS4 retail tests printed in Planning

25 July 2011

Hampshire appeals show difference in retail tests

Friday, 15 July 2011

One reader highlights the difference between the PPS6 needs test and the PPS4 impact test when it comes to deciding out-of-town development.

When citing examples of out-of-town retail schemes that were rejected because they did not meet criteria set out in Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 4 on planning for sustainable economic growth, your feature refers to a Tesco application in Alton in Hampshire (Planning, 1 July, p24).
An appeal for a Tesco store in Alton was dismissed in May 2010, but a second appeal for the same development was allowed in June 2011. The key difference between the appeals was that the package of benefits within the section 106 agreement was better in the second appeal and the inspector considered that these would offset the adverse impact on the town centre.

The benefits included a contribution towards a bus service and town centre improvements. The key lesson is that section 106 benefits can offset the adverse impact on a town centre even when, as in the Alton case, this could lead to the closure of an existing store.

This case highlights a clear difference between the need test set out in PPS6 on planning for town centres and the PPS4 impact test, namely that impact can be offset by investing in the town centre and helping it to compete with the new store, whereas need cannot.

The divergent views in the article about the effect of the tests also highlight the importance of interpretation. Indeed, in the Alton decision, the inspector noted that "retail impact assessment is not a precise science and there is a need to exercise judgement".

Simon Roberts, Alsop Verrill, London


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