“This sentence constitutes an important point of reference for large retail chains. Disputes pertaining to the installation of racks are frequent and, while they are used for the purpose of storing goods in outdoor areas, the technical departments of local municipalities often express very different positions”.
This comment came from Walter Scano, Director of Legal and Business Affairs for Leroy Merlin Italia, Bricocenter Italia and Zodio Italia, the day after the sentence was made on Bricoman Italia srl vs the Municipality of Caronno Pertusella (near Varese). The retailer won an important appeal to the Italian Council of State on authorization to install racks in the forecourts outside its stores.
Clarified the nature of shelving in outdoor forecourts
According to Antonella Ceschi, the lawyer representing Bricoman and who won the case, “With sentence no. 337/2019 the Italian Council of State has finally clarified the nature and authorization regulations for racks that are widely used, particularly by large retail chains, in the context of forecourts outside stores, in order to make better use of spaces dedicated to storage and stocks of goods, and dedicated to the display and sale of products.”
But what actually happened? The Municipality of Caronno Pertusella had disputed that the store did not have permission to build and anchor racks to the ground, ordering the removal of the same, or forfeit the area where the racks were located. In addition, the Municipality underscored the impact on the urban landscape, considering the height (approximately 6 m) of the racks.
For its part Bricoman opposed the Municipality’s claim, “underscoring the purely instrumental nature of the racks for the main operations of the store, but also in regard to the designation of the forecourt where the disputed racks were located, already designated at the time of development planning and building permission for the storage of goods and in part for a sales area.”
In support, it was highlighted that the paving of the forecourt was authorized, implying, as a consequence also the possibility of subsequent initiatives to equip the area “in order to better use the spaces and tidily and safely store the goods, which are often heavy or bulky.”
Another aspect brought to the attention of the judge related to the racks, open on 4 sides and only in some cases encased by plexiglass sheets to protect the goods, which, because of their characteristics, could not be identified as covering surfaces, therefore did not generate new volumes.
Moreover, while it is true that the racks cannot be moved, the reason is because “the anchors holding them to the ground were made purely for safety reasons, to prevent the racks from falling when the goods are loaded”. The anchors, moreover, do not prevent the racks from being moved.