Planning for the Money not the Many

29th September 2006
news
release

Manchester Friends of the Earth [1] has criticised planning decisions made by Stockport Council, accusing council bosses of making inconsistent decisions based on the bank balance of the applicant rather than the best interests of the local community.

The environmental campaigns group cited two recent cases to prove its point. On 15th September, Manchester Metro News reported that Steven Woodfinden-Lewis had been ordered to tear down his new four-bed house because it is 600mm larger than his application stated. Stockport Council has told the 47-year-old that he does not have proper planning permission for the newly-built property on Chester Road in Woodford and he must now knock it down or make alterations, which he says are impossible to carry out.

Yet supermarket giant Tesco has received retrospective planning permission for a store 20% larger than it had permission to build. The store on Tiviot Way in Portwood, Stockport, opened for business in 2004. The original planning application was approved by Stockport Council in May 2003 for a store of just over 9,000 sq m. But when the store was completed it had an area of more than 11,000 sq m. Councillors in Stockport had originally refused to give retrospective planning permission, but it was granted at a full committee meeting on 21st September.

Manchester Friends of the Earth campaigner Paul D’Ambra said:
“It seems to defy logic that a supermarket openly flouts planning rules and gets off scot-free, while an individual faces bankruptcy because his house is a few millimetres too tall. Given the very genuine concerns about the impact of supermarkets on our high streets, our farmers and consumer choice, this raises important questions about how decisions are being made about the future of our communities. Planning legislation desperately needs to be strengthened and the Competition Commission must look again at the power exercised by supermarket chains [2].”

He continues:
“You also have to wonder how Tesco managed to get it so wrong. The mind boggles at this level of mismanagement in such a large construction project. Shoppers that choose Tesco should check their receipts carefully – prices may be 20% higher than advertised.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent campaigns group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on their website: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk. Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local groups, affiliated to the national organisation (further information can be found at http://www.foe.co.uk).

[2] Friends of the Earth is calling for the competition agencies to tackle supermarket dominance on the high street and for planning legislation to be strengthened. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) needs to refer the matter to the Competition Commission for a full market review. The group is also calling for the loophole to be closed which continues to allow mezzanine floors to be built outside stores without planning permission.