Campaigning to curb supermarket power

Appeal Decisions

Decisions made by the Planning Inspectorate/Secretary of State against supermarkets

We’ve collected some decisions by the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspectorate for refusing applications at appeal for supermarkets in England – these may be useful in constructing your arguments against supermarket planning applications, as they show the sorts of arguments and language that are likely to be taken into account by both the local authority and Planning Inspectorate, where relevant to your local circumstances. All the appeal decision notices make specific reference to the local planning documents and whether the application accords with them. 

You can search for appeal decisions on the Planning Inspectorate website.

Todmorden, Yorkshire, November 2012
The Planning Inspectorate has found against ASDA’s Appeal to build a fourth supermarket in the small Pennine town of Todmorden (Population 13,500). This was based on the finding that, “the proposal would have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Todmorden Town Centre, its role as a market town and committed and planned public and private investment within the centre” . (PIN decision 13/11/2012). Please read the decision notice here.

Barnoldswick, Lancashire, November 2012
Tesco's appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a supermarket in Barnoldswick has been thrown out. The plans were rejected by Councillors in August but Tesco appealed against the decision. But planning inspector Philip Asquith agreed with the Council's decision saying "Given the important current role of the Co-op as an anchor for the town centre and my views on the likely cumulative effects of two large-format stores on it and consequent reduction in footfall, on balance, I consider there to be a strong probability of a substantial impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre." Read more here.

Seaton Delaval, Tyne and Wear, September 2012 
The planning inspector dismissed an appeal by Tesco to turn the Victoria and Albert Pub into a Metro Store. Local residents campaigned against the store, and were concerned about the loss of one of the last pubs in the village, and the traffic issues in the area. The County Council rejected the application in February due to concerns around traffic and noise.
In dismissing the appeal, the Inspector concluded that:

i) the adverse highway safety implications of the scheme would be likely to be worse than would be the situation with the suggested ‘fall back position’ of the conversion of the pub without its extension

ii) lack of safe and suitable access and iii) he could not be assured that the proposal does not conflict with the Framework and that it would not harm the promotion of competitive town centres in the area. Para 27 of the Framework states that where an application fails to satisfy the sequential test it should be refused.

Please read the decision notice here.

Colchester, Essex, August 2012
A Planning Inspector upheld Colchester Council's decision to refuse Sainsbury’s wants to turn the former Drury Arms, in Layer Road, into a Local store. He accepted council planners’ arguments that

i) the extension would not fit in with other buildings in the area, since the extension’s roof would not match the pub’s pitched roof.
ii) concerns over increased traffic to and from a shop were not supported by highways experts.

Lancaster, Lancashire, August 2012
Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, dismissed an appeal by developers to build an out of town supermarket in Scotforth, Lancaster.

The reasons for dismissal were:
The harm to planned investment in the expansion of Lancaster’s central shopping area
Traffic congestion
Adverse impact on the landscape

Saffron Walden, Essex, May 2012
Planning Inspector, Christina Downes, dismissed an appeal by Sainsbury's saying that the new store would have “significant adverse impacts” for the town.

Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, September 2011
Following a two-year battle, campaigners were informed that the planning inspector had rejected an appeal by Tesco. The reasons given by the planning inspector were:

Highway safety dangers
Damage to the character and appearance of the local area and the setting of the Keyworth Conservation Area. 
Harm to the living conditions of two nearby houses
A flawed retail impact assessment

Please read the decision notice here.

Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, March 2011
The Scottish Government has dismissed an appeal by Tesco to build a large store in  Milngavie. The reasons given by the Reporter were:

The impact of the proposed development on the site and surrounding area
The setting of listed buildings and the conservation area
The vitality and viability of the town centre, and that of Bearsden
The traffic network in the area.

Read the decision notice here.

Decisions in 2010 reflect the new Planning Policy Statement 4 and may be reaching the conclusion that the application will have a negative impact on local town centres, that its scale is inappropriate for the centre in which it is situated, or that there are more appropriate, more central sites for the development available through the sequential test.

Stoke-on-Trent, October 2010

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has thrown out Tesco's plan to increase the store's size from 5,342 square metres to 9,383 square metres following a public inquiry.  The Government inspector ruled that an extended store "would likely result in a decline in Newcastle town centre trade/turnover". Please read the decision here. The decision has been backed by residents, who had raised concerns about the impact of extra traffic, including pollution, road safety dangers and noise from the 24-hour store.

Alton, Hampshire, July 2010

A Planning Inspector dismissed Tesco's appeal highlighting 3 key issues -
1. Whether the edge of town proposal would cause significant harm to the
vitality and viability of the town centre;
2. Whether it is likely to provide an adequate choice of transport, or
increase reliance on the use of the motor car; and
3. Whether the resulting use of the highway network would have detrimental
effect on highway safety and the free flow of traffic.
Read the full appeal decision here and the campaign case study here.

Isle of Man, July 2010

Plans to extend the Tesco store in Lake Road, Douglas were shelved by the Manx Council of Ministers. The Council agreed with an independent planning inspector following a public inquiry and rejected the extension on increased traffic grounds. A copy of the letter to parties explaining the Council of Ministers' decision, a summary of the inspector's conclusions, and his full report can all be found on the Isle of Man Government website at

Walkley, Sheffield, June 2010

Tesco's appeal against a decision to refuse its plans for a single storey convenience store was rejected on on grounds of road safety, parking concerns and lack of any need for such a store. Planning Inspector Wildsmith also made reference to the effect on the local economy of a further chain store being sited in the Walkley Commonside area. Read the appeal decision here.

The decisions below base their refusal of the application of the old Planning Policy Statement 6, reaching the conclusion that there is not enough need for the proposals, that the application will have a negative impact on local town centres, that its scale is inappropriate for the centre in which it is situated, or that there are more appropriate, more central sites for the development available through the sequential test.

Mill Road, Cambridge, November 2008

Appeal A was against a failure by Cambridge City Council to give notice within the prescribed period of time and Appeal B was against a refusal to grant planning permission for a single-storey extension. Both Appeals were dismissed by the Inspector on grounds of highway safety and parking provision. Please read the appeal decision here.

Trafford, Greater Manchester, November 2006

Tesco’s two applications to extend a store that was not yet constructed but had received permission, by nearly doubling the size with extra non-food floorspace, were subject to an appeal. The Inspector is doubtful about the need for the extra floorspace, and suggests that there are sequentially preferable sites and that Tesco has not been sufficiently flexible in considering other formats to meet these. The Inspector rejects the projected impact figures submitted by Tesco, and expects that the store would have a strong negative impact on existing centres. In reaching this conclusion the Inspector makes use of a survey undertaken by a group of local campaigners against the application, which investigated the impact of a nearby Tesco store on existing shops. The Inspector considers the impact on small shops in local centres and suggests that these shops play an important social role which the Tesco application could detract from. The Inspector has strong objections to the design of the proposed store which would dominate the area and harm its attractiveness, and suggests that residential amenity of local residents would also be affected by the store. Read a summary of the Inspector's arguments, and the Inspector's full decision notice.

Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, August 2006

Tesco’s application to double the size of an existing store on the edge of Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset  was approved by the local authority, but then called-in by the Secretary of State because of a conflict with national policies. The Inspector argued that the application was against the development plan, which favoured residential development on the application site, that the proposal was of an inappropriate scale and there wasn't enough need for the additional floorspace. Read a summary of the the Inspector's arguments, and the Planning Inspector's report and Secretary of State's decision letter.

Worthing, Sussex, July 2006

The Inspector dismissed Asda’s appeal, made with Worthing College, for a superstore, based on the conclusion that the site was not in a town centre location and that it would cause unacceptable harm on existing shops. The Inspector argued this harm outweighed the fact that the redevelopment of the 6th Form College was relying on its partnership with Asda for funding. The Inspector also argues that because the application is from a chain of Asda's size and buying power, the impact it has on local shops will be especially high. Read a summary of the Inspector’s arguments, and the Inspector's full decision notice.

Dartford, Kent, July 2006

The Secretary of State refused a proposal for a massive mixed use town centre development including a Tesco Extra hypermarket. The Inspector dealt with traffic, housing, the historic environment and conservation of open space as well as retail issues, and concluded that it was a “finely balanced” case, but that the costs to the built environemnt and open space were too high. The Inspector argued that some benefits would be brought,  including in terms of retail, but that there was the potential for damage to the other shops in the centre because it was poorly connected, despite its central location. In reaching the decision, the Inspector made use of evidence submitted in opposition to the Inquiry by local MP Dr Howard Stoate and takes into account the significant local opinion against the park. Read a summary of the Inspector’s arguments, and the Planning Inspector's report and Secretary of State's refusal letter.

Newington Green, London, January 2006

The Planning Inspector rejected the application for a development in Newington Green, North London because of the impact it would have on the character of the area, which is a Conservation Area, and the impact on local shops. In both issues, the size of the unit was key to the decision, because of the view of the Inspector that it would be likely to be operated by a national chain, which would cause a bigger impact. The Inspector confirms that concern about the future of existing shops is an important issue because of the need to protect the vitality and viability of the area. Read a summary of the Inspector’s arguments and the Inspector's full decision notice.

Newquay, Cornwall, February 2005

The Planning Inspector dismissed Aldi’s application for a new store based on design and regeneration issues. The application conflicted with two emerging supplementary local panning documents. These documents were not yet finalised, so could not be the basis for a refusal, but the Inspector decided that if they were based on sound principles then these principles could be used to assess the application. He finds that the proposals would not guarantee the regeneration objectives the documents are aiming for. Read a summary of the Inspector's main arguments and the Inspector's full decision notice.

Sittingbourne, Kent, November 2004

The application for a Lidl foodstore, other retail units and a pub in the Thames Gateway site was refused by the local authority then by the Inspector, though there was already outline permission for a development on the site. The main objections were the design and layout and the impact on residential amenity, and the location of the site which was judged to be an important area. These conflicted with local planning policies, so the Inspector dismissed the application. Read a summary of the Local Authority's and Planning Inspector's main arguments, the local authority's decision notice and theInspector's full decision notice.

Middlesbrough, August 2004

The Inquiry related to two applications for large stores, by Asda and by Tesco, both in very deprived wards. The Council favoured the proposals because of their expected regeneration benefits, but after calling in the applications the Secretary of State decided that the impact on other town and district centres in the area would be too great (including in other local authority areas) and that there were sequentially preferable sites. The Inspector suggested that the regeneration benefits of the stores would not actually be all that significant. Read a summary of the Planning Inspector's arguments, the Planning Inspector's report and the Secretary of State's refusal letter.

Wallasey, Merseyside, April 2004

The Inspector judged that although there was sufficient need for the store, it was in an out-of-town location away from any existing centre, and there was a sequentially preferable site. The Inspector noted that Lidl’s success relies on its standardised formats, and that the chain had not made sufficient attempt to adapt its plans to the more appropriate, smaller site – against the PPS6 stipulation that applicants should demonstrate flexibility in accommodating the sequential approach. Read a summary of the Inspector's arguments and the Inspector's full decision notice.

Stirchley, Birmingham, September 2003

The Inspector dismissed Asda's appeal for a store in an edge-of-centre site in Stirchley, a district centre within Birmingham. In retail terms, the Inspector considered that there was not sufficient need for the store, that there was a sequentially preferable site, and that there would be a detrimental impact on Stirchley. Also key to the decision was its current manufacturing industrial use – local plan policies relating to industrial land would be undermined by its use for retail. Read a summary of the Inspector's arguments and the full decision notice from the Planning Inspector.