BRADFORD Council should not show preference to large employers at the expense of smaller ones when it comes to deciding planning applications - according to a government inspector.
Last year the Council refused to give permission for a caravan storage business A&G to permanently make the Wyke Mills site off Huddersfield Road its permanent home.
The company had been granted temporary permission to use the land as a base for eight years, but that permission was due to run out in July. It applied to lift this temporary limit, but the application was turned down, with the Council claiming the land could be a key future employment site for the district, and that allowing the caravan business, which has a small number of employees, to remain could jeopardise future development.
Officers admitted there were no concrete plans for any such developments.
Refusing the plans officers said: "It is simply not known at this stage whether the site will be required for employment use. In planning terms, it is within a desirable area for industry, but much work remains before it can be said with any certainty whether or not the site will be needed in order to meet the district’s employment land target.
"Consequently, permanent planning permission cannot be given until such time as land requirements are clarified.
“The Local Planning Authority is not prepared to grant a permanent permission in view of the allocation of the site as an employment site, since this would potentially prejudice use of the site for employment uses."
The applicants appealed the Council decision, and a government appointed planning inspector has now overturned the refusal - meaning the business can permanently remain on the site.
In her decision, planning inspector Felicity Thompson said: "No substantive evidence has been provided which suggests that the situation in respect of this site is going to change or that a use which the Council considers more suitable has come forward. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that an alternative use that would generate more jobs is a realistic prospect. Whilst I understand the Council’s position it is not the purpose of the planning system, where there is compliance with the development plan, to determine that a small scale employer should not get preference over a larger scale employment generating use."
A Bradford Council spokesperson, said: “The land was allocated in our local plan for ‘employment purposes’. The application for caravan storage was approved only on a temporary basis in order to allow for applications which could generate a significant number of jobs. This policy is supported by the government, however, the inspector in looking to grant permanent permission, had a differing interpretation.
“Whilst each planning application must be dealt with on its own merits, this interpretation may inform future decisions around this issue.”