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Borough council loses planning appeal over fate of its former offices

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has lost a planning appeal over the future of its former offices, but avoided a cost order being made against it.

The dispute concerns the former council offices at North Quay, Weymouth, where developer Acorn appealed against the council’s refusal of planning permission for change of use from offices (B1) to C3 residential.

Planning inspector JP Roberts granted the appeal subject to conditions on parking provision and flood risk assessment.

The council argued that when it used North Quay the building was not in use as an office but was used for the administration of local government, and so was sui generis and not open to be converted to residential under permitted development rights as Acorn had intended.

Granting its appeal, Roberts said: “In respect of the North Quay building, the council has provided no evidence about the nature and extent of the use made of the building, despite the fact that the council has the best knowledge of the use that was made of the building.

“What evidence exists is that provided by the appellants and from the facts referred to in counsels’ opinion provided on behalf of the council.”

He added: “When looked at in its entirety, the administrative functions carried out within the vast majority of the floorspace can be characterised as office use, and the use of the small amount of floorspace by the public and the carrying out the democratic functions are insufficient to shift the balance from use as an office to a sui generis use.”

Roberts said though that the council had acted reasonably and so rejected the developer’s application for costs.

Mark Smulian

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