CEN article: Planner deals a blow to Tesco protests

Cambridge - No To Tesco

A protestor on Mill Road makes their views on the new store clear.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a Tesco store in Mill Road have been dealt a fresh blow.

A Cambridge City Council planning officer has recommended the latest application by Tesco be approved.

Now, hopes of the No Mill Road Tesco campaign rest on the decision of the council’s east area committee, which will determine the application when it meets next week.

The committee decided in January to delay its decision on three original planning applications after deciding the report did not go into enough detail.

In response, Tesco submitted a non-determination appeal, saying the council had taken too long over its decision. It also resubmitted the three applications for a sign, cash machine, store room and plant.

In her recommendation to councillors, Angela Briggs, a planning officer for the city council, described the applications as “acceptable” and said they “comply with the aims and objectives of the Local Plan policies”.

Richard Rippin, spokesman for the campaigners, said: “We are obviously disappointed, but it’s not a terrible surprise.

“We feel there are incredibly strong planning grounds for the plans to be rejected, and feel Tesco has used bullying tactics. It seems the planning officers are more worried about the mighty Tesco than local people with rational grounds for opposing the scheme.
“But we still have confidence our local councillors will back us – there are solid planning grounds for the application to be turned down.”

The main fears raised by objectors are that the planned cash machine would increase the amount of traffic in the Broadway area of Mill Road and encourage dangerous parking.

It has also been argued there is no need for another cash machine in the street and that the shop front would be out of keeping with the character of Mill Road. Campaigners have collected more than 5,000 signatures for their petition opposing Tesco’s plans. Cambridge Cycling Campaign has also registered its objections with the council.

If the applications are not approved by councillors, the decision would be made by an independent planning inspector, although Tesco has insisted it would prefer councillors to decide.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We have been left with no option. Four months on we still have no decision from the council. All sensible perspective has been lost.”

The supermarket giant’s move was described by Mr Rippin as a bid to “take the decision out of local democratic hands”.

The committee will make its decision when it meets on Thursday, March 6, at St Philip’s Church in Mill Road. The meeting starts at 7.30pm.

Cambridge Evening News, 29th February 2008

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