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Evolution Town Planning were instructed by the Swan Doctors Surgery in Bury St Edmunds to provide planning advice to help them to establish a new pharmacy in their doctors surgery.

We were instructed when a planning application for the pharmacy was refused by the planning committee on the grounds of disturbance to local residents.

The issue of doctor’s surgeries opening pharmacies was a very emotive one, and led to many locally significant planning battles across the country. Local residents feared noise and disturbance from late night opening, and possible antisocial behaviour if drug users frequented the pharmacies. The development of new pharmacies also raised anti competition issues from existing pharmacies. There was a significant, well-funded, and professionally advised local campaign objecting to our client’s proposal.

We advised the client on the appointment of a barrister. A joint appeal on the refused planning application and a certificate of lawful use was upgraded from a hearing to a planning inquiry due to the weight of legal arguments put forward by the objectors.

At this point we negotiated with the Council to submit a second planning application that was acceptable to our client. This avoided the need for our clients and the Council to fight a planning inquiry. We undertook public consultation with local residents during the course of the second planning application which significantly reduced the level of public objection. The planning application was then presented to and approved by the planning committee.

The strategy of submitting a second planning application saved our client the significant costs of a planning inquiry that would have addressed complex legal issues. This strategy also resulted in a quicker approval by eight months compared to the time that would have been required for a planning inquiry