Oct 3 2012 By Jack Griffith
ASDA has questioned the borough's planning guidelines during the public inquiry into the grocer's failed bid for superstore in Hayes.
Over the course of the four-day inquiry, which got underway on Tuesday, Hillingdon Council will defend its decision to refuse an application for a supermarket and warehouses on an industrial site in Millington Road, Hayes - known as Westlands 3 - to an independent planning inspector.
The proposals were turned down last November because they would result in the loss of an Industrial and Business Area (IBA), as specified in Hillingdon's Unitary Development Policy (UDP), which outlines planning policies.
The area is also said to be a Strategic Industrial Location (SIL) - an area of economic importance to the capital - in the Mayor of London's London Plan.
ASDA decided to appeal against the refusal in April, on the grounds that the designation was 'out-of-date', and a supermarket would deliver much-needed jobs for local people.
The local UDP will be soon be replaced by the Core Strategy, a new policy framework for the borough.
Russell Harris QC, representing the landowners, the British Steel Pension Fund (BSPF) and the supermarket, clashed with Hillingdon planning officer Matt Guigan during today's (Wednesday) session, arguing that planning policy in the borough was currently 'in limbo', and land allocations could change and some employment land could be released once the Core Strategy is implemented.
He added: "There is a pressing need for retail development that could be met on the site."
Mr Guigan said: "When making decisions about the release of employment land, the council shouldn't be tapping into strategic employment land as a first point of call."
Councillor Paul Buttivant (Cons, West Drayton) was a witness supporting the proposals. Three petitions signed by more than 700 residents eager to see ASDA bring jobs to the area was also handed in at the inquiry.
David Wildsmith, the presiding planning inspector, will visit the site tomorrow (Thursday), and both sides are due to make their closing arguments on Friday.
The planning inspectorate could take weeks to make a final ruling on whether to uphold, or overturn the council's decision.