Parking standards to be reinforced

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PARKING standards for new supermarkets are to be reinforced by Angus Council to avoid challenges in the wake of approval for Sainsbury’s Montrose development.

This week the authority’s infrastructure services committee was asked to rubber-stamp a report confirming the council’s current supermarket parking standards to clarify for developers what the requirements are.

At a meeting of the council’s development standards committee at the end of August, councillors voted overwhelmingly against planners’ recommendations to refuse the Brechin Road store on the grounds that it had insufficient parking.

In his report, infrastructure services director Eric Lowson also said there is a risk that the current regulations could be challenged by applicants who consider the decision had set a precedent they could follow.

He said: “Since 1996, numerous planning applications have been assessed against the Roads Standards and subjected to objections by the roads division where appropriate.

“This includes a number of high profile developments and in particular the recent supermarket development in Montrose. Following the decision by the development standards committee to approve the supermarket development, it is now unclear to developers what the requirements will be in the future for developments in Angus.

“The committee is asked to endorse the continued use of the current Roads Standards for parking, to enable officers to advise developers of the council’s requirements.

“There is a risk that the council’s application of parking standards will be challenged by future applicants who consider the recent high profile decision has set a precedent unless the committee endorses the existing standards or otherwise advise appropriate standards.”

Sainsbury’s submitted revised plans for the Brechin Road store in mid-March after an earlier application was turned down, also on the grounds of insufficient parking.

The revised plans now include a smaller store of 22,500 sqare feet with 190 car parking spaces, instead of 172, to help meet planning policy, along with some additional tree planting and soft landscaping.

But in his report to the committee in August, Mr Lowson said that while the new plans comply with national planning policy, parking provision still fell short of that required by the council by 20 per cent.

He this week reiterated that the council’s requirement, between seven and 10 spaces per 1,076 sq ft of floorspace, is in line with those elsewhere in Scotland.

Mr Lowson also said that parking standards have to be maintained to counter the likelihood of reduced public transport in the county and more reliance on cars.

He said: “While maximum standards may be appropriate in the centre of major urban areas with a comprehensive and frequent public transport service this is not the case in an environment such as Angus, Supermarket developments in the towns in Angus are only viable where there is sufficient parking.

“Car use and ownership in Angus continues to grow. Any suggestion that there is less need for parking is misplaced.

“The pressures on public funding in the foreseeable future will not lead to improved public transport provision.”

Mr Lowson concluded: “It is essential when setting standards and dealing with development proposals to consider both the long-term impact and the short-term benefits. A failure to require developers to provide sufficient parking will lead to longer term problems.”