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Council / Decision on knitwear van planning appeal deferred

The BAKKA van.

A KNITWEAR producer will have to wait a little longer to find out the fate of her appeal against the refusal of planning permission to site a van in the centre of Lerwick.

Members of Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee said during a remote meeting on Monday that they wanted more clarity before making a decision, with councillors agreeing to defer the matter for a hearing.

BAKKA’s Mary Macgregor was denied full permission last year after Shetland Islands Council planners ruled that having a van to sell goods from at Irvine Place “would look and feel out of place when compared and considered with the character of the area”.

The refusal also said that the proposal was contrary to seven different policies in the Shetland Local Development Plan.

Macgregor had applied for planning permission to allow her to sell goods from the van for more than the 28 days a year a street trader licence allows.

She was incidentally refused a street trader licence to sell goods from the van at Irvine Place last year amid concerns over the distance from shops selling similar products, and on appeal the decision was upheld.

Macgregor, however, was given a permit to trade from two other locations in the centre of town, but they were less preferable.

She has been trading from a stall at the the pedestrianised Harrison Square in the summer months but she wishes to sell goods from a van instead.

In her planning refusal appeal application, Macgregor clarified that she would not be parking overnight, with the van coming and going on the days when she would be trading.

She claimed that the local development plan only “addresses permanent structures and not temporary ones” and requested that planning permission be granted with the condition added of no overnight parking.

At Monday’s meeting some questions from members could not be fully answered as the planning officer who worked on the case was not present.

Concerns were raised from some councillors that granting the planning permission could actually allow any mobile trader with a relevant licence to sell goods from the site as the application was not a personal one.

North mainland member Andrea Manson questioned whether an ice cream or food van would be able to use the space if permission was granted – with planning team leader John Holden stating that would be the case if they had a street trader licence.

Committee chair Emma Macdonald also said she was worried about the prospect of people queuing on the street if the two metre social distancing rule could not be implemented in the van.

Lerwick member Cecil Smith said he had concerns about a lack of clarity ahead of ruling on the appeal and supported the idea of deferring consideration.

“We have to be very, very careful as to how we move forward with this,” he said.

Councillors, meanwhile, also agreed to undertake a site visit regarding an appeal for planning permission for a new house near to the Tingwall straight.