Planning permission has been granted on appeal to Metro Bank for the installation of a new glazed two storey shopfront and ATM in Leicester town centre. The proposed development site is the southernmost corner of the former Littlewood store building.
Of significance is Metro Bank’s business model which seeks to locate its stores in prominent town centre locations with double height frontages where possible. In the present case, if permission had not been granted, Metro Bank had given evidence that it would not continue with its proposals to open a store in Leicester Town Centre.
The main issues considered by the Inspector were: the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the former Littlewood store building and the nearby area; the effect on the character and appearance of the nearby conservation areas; and the effect on the setting of the Grade II Listed Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower.
The Inspector found that while there would be some harm to the character and appearance of the former Littlewood store building and the nearby area, the modern double storey shopfront would not be inappropriate and would help promote public safety through the provision of active frontage into the evenings.
The Inspector noted that the proposed development would be seen from within parts of the conservation areas and there would be views from the development site into the conservation areas. However, while the appearance of this particular corner would be significantly altered by the proposed development, it could be understood as part of the evolving commercial character of the town centre conservation areas. The effect of the proposed development on the conservation areas was therefore neutral and amounted to preservation.
With regard to impact on the Grade II listed clock tower, the Inspector considered that the proposed development would not alter the significance of the clock tower to the city as a whole. Taking into account the Appellant’s Heritage Statement, she concluded that any harm to the setting of the clock tower would be less than substantial. The Inspector agreed with the Appellant that the public benefits arising from the proposal – which included updating and activating the building frontage, a commitment to long-term occupation of the property, the provision of convenient banking facilities and creation of new jobs and training opportunities – outweighed this harm.
Saira Kabir Sheikh QC acted for Metro Bank Plc, the successful Appellant.
The inspector’s decision letter can be found here.