South Somerset District Council leader Ric Pallister believes that Yeovil Town's plans for a Food Store to be built at Huish Park will not be passed unless the club can overcome some significant hurdles. Mr Pallister was interviewed by BBC Somerset today after last week's reports that former director George Smith had written to SSDC back in the year 2000, explaining why one of the land covenants existed at the ground.
Mr Pallister has told the BBC that he believes the club's application still falls down on the planning 'sequential test' that requires town centre space to be used ahead of an out of town development. In addition he highlights that replacement public open space that forms part of the Huish Park land has yet to be identified:
"There is a presumption from central government we shouldn't grant planning permission to out-of-town superstores. The land upon which they wish to seek planning permission for is indeed public open recreation space so selling that will mean we also have to re-provide that somewhere else."
SSDC wrote to the club's planning advisors MWA back in March asking for the application for the replacement open space to be provided to them. As yet this has not been made available, with a further communication from Area South Planning Officer Andy Cato on July 6th reminding MWA that SSDC were "still awaiting the supply of the Club's proposals for replacement/alternative provision of public open space and recreation."
Mr Pallister adds that he can see the club may choose to appeal any decision made by the Council, but points out that even if SSDC did let it through then national Government departments would step in and stop the application:
"It is probable that it will end up in an appeals situation, but even if we were to grant it there is a very strong chance that the secretary of state would call in the whole matter for him to determine because it breaches government planning policy."
The BBC indicate that Yeovil Town declined to provide a representative on the programme to provide a response to the SSDC leader's claims. However, the application seems unlikely to move until the replacement public open space is identified and submitted to the Council.
Last week's reports suggested that the revised target date for the application to be reviewed was now October 2012, although as with the original May target date, this may shift if the missing submissions are not received.
As yet, there has been no sign of an application for the 3,500 capacity stand that was part of the original plans unveiled in March 2011.
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