Empty shop can open as a bookies after overcoming a first refusal from Wakefield Council planners

Woodhead Investments want to turn an empty shop unit into a bookmakers or estate agent, but it was refused by a planning committee on the ground that it does not add value to the city centre.'David and Mark Woodhead

Woodhead Investments want to turn an empty shop unit into a bookmakers or estate agent, but it was refused by a planning committee on the ground that it does not add value to the city centre.'David and Mark Woodhead

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Developers have won the right to bring an empty shop back into use, months after they were turned down by the council’s planning committee.

Woodhead Investments appealed to the secretary of state after councillors told them they could not use the former TDF menswear shop, on Northgate, as a bookmakers or travel agent.

And, following the appeal, they were granted planning permission for a change of use at the unit, and awarded costs against Wakefield Council for “unreasonable behaviour”.

When making their decision in October last year, members of the planning committee said they would have preferred a primary retail business to move in.

But Woodhead Investments’ secretary David Woodhead said it did not make sense to leave the unit empty.

He said: “We were delighted that the planning inspectorate employed a degree of common sense and granted planning permission, having recognised that occupation of a vacant unit would actually improve the vitality and viability of Wakefield, creating jobs and further business locally.

“We appreciate that in an ideal world we would have attracted another retailer into this prominent corner position, but sadly much of the demand for new retail premises has been satisfied by the opening of Trinity Walk.

“As a ratepayer, ultimately responsible for the cost of the council’s decision, we are left to question the reasoning and accountability of the local decision makers.”

Ian Thomson, the council’s service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “The council originally refused planning permission to change from a shop to a financial and professional service use. This decision was appealed and we are disappointed that it was overturned by the planning inspectorate.

“This is subject to conditions to control the window display.”

At the end of last year, the government announced that Wakefield City Centre Partnership would be given £10,000 to help improve city centre trade.