Archive for the ‘Press releases’ Category.

Press release: Cambridge the capital of clone town Britain says New Economics Foundation

We are sad, but not surprised, to see that Cambridge is now the capital of clone town Britain.

Over the last few years we have all seen the way that supermarkets and chain stores have increased their grip on our small city, and the way that local, independent business have struggled with Cambridge’s sky-high rents.

Local businesses are part of the communities they serve, putting far more money back into them than the large chain stores, which drain money from local economies. Local businesses are often cheaper, too – a local greengrocers or market stall will sell fruit and vegetables at a fraction of the prices charged by supermarket convenience stores, for example, and often source food locally. Where there are thriving local businesses, everyone benefits; once they’ve gone, we can’t get them back.

Cambridge’s last MP championed the idea of an independent business zone but we have seen no progress on this interesting idea, and there seems to us to be a sad lack of official interest in stopping our city from losing even more of its character and the special benefits that local, independent businesses bring.

But thankfully this isn’t the whole story.

Many parts of Cambridge still have flourishing independent businesses and local residents that support them. On Mill Road, the annual Winter Fair is a wonderful reminder of the area’s diversity. On Mill Road, too, the Milly Card scheme shows how everyone benefits when local people and local business work together.

Last week, Cambridge made headlines as the home of the world’s best university. This week, it’s in first place on a list that no town wants to top. We hope that this embarrassment for our city will encourage officials and politicians to think seriously and creatively about ways to help local businesses and the communities that rely on them.

Press release: No Mill Road Tesco Campaign takes Cambridge City Council to court over failure to enforce planning restrictions

Richard Rippin, a member of the No Mill Road Tesco (NMRT) Campaign, will today seek a High Court Interim Order to halt deliveries to the proposed Cambridge store and ban the use of the Air Conditioning units that seem to have been installed contrary to planning controls.

Despite having no safe and legal means of delivering to the proposed Tesco Express site, the company intend to open the store this coming Wednesday. The City Council have been aware of these plans for at least six weeks but have done nothing to prevent them coming to fruition, and formalised their position of inaction at a meeting of their East Area Committee last Wednesday.

Further to the Interim Order, the campaign is also seeking a Judicial Review of the Council’s failure to act to prevent the unsafe operation of the store.

NMRT Committee Member Richard Rippin said, “As a resident of the area for 15 years, I know how dangerous Tesco’s delivery plans are. Everyone who lives in the area knows how narrow Mill Road is and how many road accidents there are already. Everyone who lives here also knows it would be impossible to send lorries around the area’s narrow residential streets several times a day.

“We are sad to be in the position of having to take the Council to the High Court, but we feel that we’ve have been left with no alternative. Whether Tesco try to deliver to the front or around the back in these lorries, they would be doing something which they are either specifically banned from doing at the site, or which a series of relevant professionals, including their own consultants, have said would be impractical and unsafe. The council have had several weeks to take action to stop this happening. On Wednesday they again decided to delay.”

Notes for Editors:

Richard Rippin can be contacted on 07886 757987 or

The NMRT Campaign has been running since September 2007 – see

During this time Tesco have lost 3 planning applications, an alcohol license application and a public enquiry. Many of these defeats have been based on the fact that there is simply no safe way to service this site with in the region of 35 deliveries per week, using large vehicles which would either have to block a major route in and out of the city centre for extended periods each day, or navigate around narrow one way streets, which Tesco themselves have said was unworkable.

Over 5000 local people have signed a petition against the proposed store.

Tesco defeated again!

Councillors last night dealt yet another blow to Tesco’s plans for Mill Road when they voted to reject the latest application for air conditioning and refrigeration plant. The campaign was again allowed 10 minutes speaking time rather than the usual 3, in recognition of the level of public interest, and used the time to explain some of the many flaws in Tesco’s acoustic report.  We pointed out, for example, that the measurements had been taken in the wrong place and some of the figures were inaccurate estimates (a point confirmed by the Council’s Environmental expert who was also present at the committee meeting).

We also explained how the considerations of road safety and residential amenity, so crucial to the decision to refuse Tesco’s last application for an extension and plant, were also relevant here. Tesco had also provided no details of how they proposed to store waste, including the large amounts of rotting food that would be generated by the store’s operation.  We had previously shown councillors photos of existing Tesco Express stores, proving how Tesco’s practice is to simply store all kinds of waste and delivery cages outside their small format shops.

In her speech, Sonia Cooter, campaign co-ordinator, also reminded councillors of the importance of protecting the vibrant, diverse space of Mill Road.  Other speakers against the application included Cambridge Friends of the Earth, Jannie Brightman, and a Lib Dem county councillor. Tesco chose not to bother to speak.

After two hours of speeches and debates, councillors finally voted in front of a packed St Philips church to reject the application. Tesco are now relying on overturning the previous refusal on appeal but don’t seem very confident they will win.  Needless to say, we agree with them!

You may have heard that this morning Tesco finally evicted the squatters from the Mill Road Social Centre; they had apparently booked the eviction a week ago, so were obviously confident of winning last night.

Cambridge 2 – Tesco 0

No Tesco campaigners urge councillors to vote against report

The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign is urging Councillors to vote against the recommendations of the planning officers report on the latest Tesco application when they meet on Thursday night.

Planning Officers have again recommended approval of Tesco’s application – this time for a refrigeration plant and air conditioning unit on the existing site on Mill Road. But the No Mill Road Tesco campaign believes the report is based on two false assumptions.

Firstly, campaigners believe the assertion in the report that issues of deliveries and waste are irrelevant is simply untrue. If Tesco is really serious about opening a smaller store, all the other impacts of a Tesco Express opening on this site will necessarily follow from approval of this application. Deliveries, waste and other issues are as relevant to this attempt to open an Express store as they were to the last attempt. This means all the reasons why the last application was refused on delivery grounds still apply.

Secondly, planners have ignored the fact that Tesco’s acoustic report, on which the recommendation is based, is fundamentally flawed. No Mill Road Tesco approached an acoustic consultant to look at the report when it was published, and he found a number of serious problems in the way Tesco’s acoustic consultants did their tests. This is the only document the council uses to judge the noise impact of the planning application. The planning officers have recommended approval based entirely on Tesco’s own, fundamentally unreliable acoustic report.

Ruth Deyermond, planning coordinator for the No Mill Road Tesco campaign commented “There is simply no sound basis for approval of this application. If you think that issues such as road safety traffic congestion, and the impact on local residents are relevant, which the planning guidance says they are, then the application needs to be refused. But even if you agreed with the planning officer that only the direct impacts of the air conditioning and refrigeration units are relevant then the application would still have to be refused on planning grounds. Tesco’s acoustic report is the only evidence on which the planners are asking the councillors to judge the application, and it simply doesn’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.”

Sonia Cooter, campaign coordinator added “We were expecting the council’s planning department to recommend approval, but the poor quality of the report has surprised us. We are urging everyone in the Mill Road area to come along to the East Area Committee meeting on Thursday, 31st July at 7.30pm in St Philip’s Church, Mill Road, and let our councillors know – this is not acceptable”.

No Mill Road Tesco Campaign Celebrates first year without Tesco on Mill Road

The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign is today celebrating a year without Tesco on Mill Road. July 13th 2007 was the date Tesco submitted their first planning application to Cambridge City Council – and one year on, they’re still a long way from opening a shop on Cambridge’s liveliest street.

In a year of campaigning, the No Mill Road Tesco Campaign has attracted support from hundreds of local people.

At a special East Area Committee meeting on March 6th, over 400 local residents watched city councillors vote unanimously against Tesco building an extension, which would have made it possible for them to open a viable shop on Mill Road. That application has gone to appeal. The campaign is now preparing to fight Tesco again at the July 31st East Area Committee, where a new application from Tesco for an air conditioning and refrigeration plant will be considered by local councillors.

Campaign activist Sarah Whitebread commented, “In the past year, almost everything that could go wrong for Tesco’s on Mill Road, has gone wrong. They’ve been refused planning permission for their extension, and now with the alcohol impact zone on Mill Road, they probably won’t get an alcohol license either”.

Sonia Cooter, Campaign Coordinator added “Tesco were fooling themselves if they thought they could open on Mill Road without a fight. The amount of public support the campaign has enjoyed is proof that most people just don’t want a Tesco here. The campaign has had a hugely successful first year – but the fight isn’t over yet. I hope as many people as possible will come to the East Area Committee meeting on July 31st, at St Philips Church, Mill Road, to remind Tesco how strongly local people feel about this.”

Press release: A smaller Tesco on Mill Road? Why it won’t happen

Press release, 5 May 2008

We understand that one of Tesco’s PR representatives is currently claiming that Tesco have decided to open a store on the old Wilco site on Mill Road without the extension that they have spent almost 2 years planning and arguing for. (Their proposed extension was refused by the council in March and is currently the subject of an appeal by Tesco to the Planning Inspectorate.)

We have been told that Tesco have drawn up new plans that now enable them to bypass the planning process and open without the proposed extension – despite the fact that they previously told the council planners that this would be impossible, as the documentation sent to the Planning Inspectorate confirms.

There are a few problems with Tesco’s claim. Even if they were able to operate a profitable store despite a reduction in the proposed shop floor of nearly 40% – which would be the amount of the existing store taken up by their “behind the scenes” stock storage, waste storage, office, staff facilities, bakery, etc – they would still face the following obstacles:

Continue reading ‘Press release: A smaller Tesco on Mill Road? Why it won’t happen’ »

Opinion piece for ‘Local Secrets’

On Saturday morning, two days after the Council’s East Area Committee voted unanimously to refuse Tesco’s application to build an extension at the back of the old Wilco site, I did my usual round of the half-dozen Mill Road shops that provide almost everything my household of five people needs.

Continue reading ‘Opinion piece for ‘Local Secrets’’ »

Mill Road celebrates as local councillors say No to Mill Road Tesco

Press release
For immediate release

Local residents in the Mill Road area celebrated a first win for the No Mill Road Tesco campaign last night as their councillors voted against Tesco’s application for an Express store on Mill Road. Over 250 people attended the meeting to watch the councillors make the decision.

All seven voting councillors of the East Area committee unanimously rejected Tesco’s planning application to build an extension to the rear of the proposed site. As Tesco have said themselves that the extension is crucial to their plans for opening the store, a no from the councillors is a No to Tesco on Mill Road.

Councillors voted on the grounds of the threat to local residents and highway safety posed by Tesco’s plans, as well as the need to preserve parking spaces and other facilities. They also noted the arguments made by the campaign on the threat to the vitality and viability of the local area – they acknowledged the importance of a recent All Party Parliamentary report which found that the closure of small shops is ‘inevitable’ when one of the Big 4 supermarkets open for business nearby.

Sonia Cooter, coordinator of the No Mill Road Tesco Campaign said ‘We’re thrilled that our councillors listened to their constituents and voted against Tesco. We would like to express our thanks to them and to the thousands of people who have writen letters, signed the petition and made their voices heard. Today is a real win for local people and local democracy.’


Notes for editors;

1. The East Area committee meeting was held on Thursday March 6th at St Phillips Church on Mill Road.

2. All planning arguments made by the No Mill Road Tesco campaign can be found at

3. The report by the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group can be found here:

4. PHOTO attached: the 250 members of the public attending the meeting held up signs when the vote was cast to tell their councillors what to say to Tesco’s plans.

5. Please contact Shilpa Shah on 07779 658211 for more information

Press release: Planning officers’ advice on Tesco’s Mill Road plans contains key factual mistakes, and contravenes Council’s own planning guidance

5 March 2008; for immediate release

The No Mill Road Tesco campaign have condemned the Council planning officers’ recommendation of approval for Tesco’s Mill Road plans as unsound, based on flawed interpretation of planning guidance and key factual mistakes.

The Campaign’s report, sent to East Area Committee councillors, who will be voting on the decision on Thursday, concludes that it would be unreasonable “to approve proposals with the capacity to so seriously damage residential amenity, highway safety, and the local centre, when approval is based on such incomplete and seriously flawed advice”.

Continue reading ‘Press release: Planning officers’ advice on Tesco’s Mill Road plans contains key factual mistakes, and contravenes Council’s own planning guidance’ »

The 1st ASF Design Competition: presentation of entries

Architecture Sans Frontiers Cambridge in association with the No Mill Road Tesco campaign are to hold a presentation of awards of the 1st ASF design competition. There will also be a display of the competition entries.

Architecture Sans Frontiers Cambridge is an independent student society at Cambridge University and part of the global ASF network. Its objective is to learn from architects and architectural practices around the world to develop and promote sustainability and community in architecture. As part of this we also see working at a local, community level as hugely important.

The design competition applies the ASF principles of: innovative sustainability, community Involvement and ethically considerate design to a real local context.

The ‘Wilco site’ has been the location of an ongoing battle between Tesco who wish to develop the site and the local community who oppose this. The ASF competition seeks to find an alternative to the alternative most adapted to sustainability and the needs of the community.

The presentation will take place on Saturday 1st March at 5:00pm in the Lecture Room at the Department of Architecture, 1-5 Scroope Terrace, Cambridge CB2 1PX.

There will be snacks, wine and soft drinks provided.

For more information on Architecture Sans Frontiers please consult