Developer wins fight to open Starbucks drive-thru at Mile House pub, Stockton

Mile House Pub

A DEVELOPER has won a long-running battle to open a Starbucks at a boarded-up pub after an appeal was upheld.


Plans to open a drive-thru and shop at the old Mile House pub in Durham Road had previously been rejected by Stockton Borough Council.


The Planning Inspectorate has now upheld an appeal and awarding the developer full costs.


The battle has been rumbling on for four years.


Applicant Cliff Court Developments had vowed to “pump money” into the £2.4m scheme until it was passed.


It will press ahead with a revised scheme, moving the coffee shop into the existing pub building and adding a retail unit. 


Stockton Borough Council last refused the scheme in 2020, ruling it was an “over-development” of the site.


The Planning Inspectorate, which visited the site at rush hour on a weekday morning said it found “no evidence” that safety of drivers and pedestrians – or air quality – would be compromised by the scheme.


The inspector said: “There is nothing within the evidence which indicates that the safety of drivers, pedestrians and other road users at and around the site would be compromised with regard to pedestrian and vehicular manoeuvrability and congestion and the free flow of traffic.”

They added: “The proposal would inevitably increase levels of activity at and around the site and concerns over noise, litter and gathering are raised. However, such impacts would likely equally also be associated with the previous use of the building as a public house.”

On awarding costs to the developer, the Planning Inspectorate said the council requested an Air Quality Assessment three months after the application was submitted on December 24, with no reason given for the delay.

The decision report said: “There are no substantive reasons before me to justify the delays that the appellant has experienced through the application process.

“It is likely that better communication on behalf of the council combined with a more proactive approach to enable the appellant to address their concerns could have avoided the need for the appeal.

“The council has therefore behaved unreasonably and this unreasonable behaviour has directly caused the appellant to incur unnecessary or wasted expense through the preparation and submission of the appeal.”

Councillor Nigel Cooke, Stockton’s cabinet member for regeneration and housing, said: “We are very disappointed that a national planning inspector has decided to approve an application our local planning committee had been minded to refuse, and one which was the subject of a number of objections from local people.”

Alex Cunningham, the MP for Stockton North, who had backed residents who objected to the scheme, described the inspectorate’s decision as “shameful”.

He said: “It’s deeply disappointing to see a local planning decision made by councillors with local knowledge of the area and the issues posed by such a development overturned by a Government appointed Planning Inspector, and once again it flies in the face of the warm words made by the “Levelling Up” Secretary at Tory Conference when he spoke of ‘allowing communities to take back control of their futures’. This decision by the Planning Inspector does the complete opposite.

“I’ve repeatedly welcomed plans to redevelop the Mile House pub, which has been left in disgraceful state following its closure, and the proposals to enhance local amenities in this area with a retail and coffee shop offer.

“I have, however, always had concerns about the “drive-thru” on safety grounds – as do many local residents. For the Inspector to simply write these off after a quick visit to the site is shameful.” 

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