Pharmacies and ancillary use – landmark appeal decision

Posted by Sara Hanrahan on
A key appeal decision for the pharmaceutical sector was reached this month in respect of  an application for the construction of a new pharmacy adjacent to the existing Oak Lodge Medical Centre in Barnet (APP/N5090/A/12/2188949).  

The appeal was first determined by written representations and was the subject of a High Court challenge by Blake Morgan on behalf of a group of local independent pharmacies.  The Secretary of State conceded the claim and the decision was quashed. The application was then considered afresh at a hearing in September 2014 and the appeal was dismissed.

There were a number of issues involved including the sequential approach set out in the NPPF for out –of- town retail development.  However, the most  significant finding for the pharmaceutical industry as a whole related to whether the proposed pharmacy could operate as an ancillary use as opposed to being a material change of use.  We argued, inter alia, that the anticipated income from dispensing NHS prescriptions, being 97.45% of total retail income (possibly up to £1.7m+ per annum), was too substantial to amount to an activity that could be reasonably classed as ancillary to the medical centre. 

The inspector agreed with this argument which means that there is now a clear precedent as to the importance of income from NHS prescription sales when assessing the ancillary nature of medical centre linked pharmacies.


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Sara specialises in urban redevelopment projects, particularly advising in relation to compulsory purchase and affordable housing schemes.

Sara Hanrahan
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