Designer outlet changes agreed despite councillor concerns

Minor design changes to Staffordshire’s new designer shopping outlet have been approved – but councillors have raised concerns about the number of alterations that have been put forward in recent months.

McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlet West Midlands
McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlet West Midlands

McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlet West Midlands finally opened to the public in April after delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cannock outlet at Mill Green has already proved a hit, with visitors flocking from miles around to shop at a range of stores selling brand name goods such as Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Nike and Superdry.

Since the original planning applications were approved by Cannock Chase Council, a number of amendments have come forward, including changes to opening hours and units.

On Wednesday, August 18, the council approved the latest series of non-material amendments, which include relocation and addition of signage, changes to colours of roof tiles and bricks and decorative surrounds being added to some windows. One unit will also be raised by 2.45m and a first floor added, increasing the floor area by 18 sq m.

Planning officer Richard Sunter told committee members: “All of these are relatively minor changes. Rather than having a plethora of applications coming in every time I have managed them into one group.”

But Councillor Paul Fisher described the situation as “double standards” at Wednesday’s meeting as the committee considered the amendments after refusing permission for another business – a campsite in Rugeley – to add more static caravans onto extra land outside its current boundary. The proposed amendments to Silver Trees Caravan and Chaley Park were rejected because the site is located in the West Midlands Green Belt.

He said: "We have a smaller company (in Rugeley) and nobody has complained or made any objections but we are told it is worse. We have a massive complex (in Cannock) and we’re allowing them to add on.

“I don’t think it’s right. You are allowing them to do what they want. That development has caused more environmental damage than the caravan site in Rugeley would have done.”

Councillor Andrea Muckley said: “I wonder how many revisions they are going to come back with as minor material changes. They have already been back to us in May – I’m concerned there are so many changes taking place they may be material rather than non-material.

“Eighteen square metres doesn’t seem very much but if you have 18 sq m here and 18 sq m there it becomes material. I’m concerned this will become bigger and bigger and we just keep giving permission. I’m concerned how flexible we’re being.”

A report to the committee said the changes to the unit were intended to improve facilities for visitors and included the introduction of an escalator, provision of a female and male prayer room and a separate foot washing area and lockers.

Councillor Mike Hoare said: “I would have expected this to happen a lot of times with a massive thing like Mill Green. Premises inside the site will want to have their different things and it is not encroaching on the Green Belt.”

Councillor Frank Allen said: “This is the jewel in the crown of Cannock Chase. Every authority did everything it could to get it and they were green with envy.”

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