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Rebuttal to points made in CEN article

On 9th May, the Cambridge Evening News carried an article “Tesco to start work on new store in July“. In our view, many of the points raised were seriously misleading, and seemed to have swallowed Tesco’s PR spin without question.

We publish below a rebuttal of the points in the article, followed by the misleading article itself.


The following is the No Mill Road Tesco Campaign’s response to this article.

“A TESCO will open in Mill Road despite massive protests, the News can reveal.”

Tesco will not open if it does not get planning permission and if it cannot make deliveries by lorry or sell alcohol. The CEN are uncritically parroting the Tesco line that they can take approval for granted. Both the CEN and Tesco made exactly this assumption about the last set of applications, and look where it got them.

“Tesco chiefs confirmed they will forge ahead with opening the shop”

No, we have been told that they are “considering” it – not the same thing at all (You might consider chucking in your job and trying out for Manchester United but that does not mean it’s going to happen).

“Work will start on the former Wilco site in July, bosses have announced.”

They will not start work if they do not have planning permission! In any case, work could not start in July, as Tesco must know. The application, which has yet to be submitted (if it ever is), would have to go back to the East Area Committee. The EAC will meet on 5th June – which would be too early for this application even if it were submitted today. (There would have to be a period for people to comment and then the officers would have to publish their report a week before the meeting) – and the next meeting of the EAC is not until 31 July.

“An artist’s impression of how the new Tesco Express store in Mill Road will look.”

This looks like the drawing they submitted with the last lot of plans. Reissuing it is obviously designed to suggest that they have gone to the trouble of commissioning new drawings, and thus to show that they are serious about the “new application”. They haven’t.

“Tesco bosses have one hurdle left to clear, which is permission for an air conditioning and refrigeration plant.”

So, just like last year, they need planning permission to open their store. The plant, if it’s the same as last time, was identified as not meeting local authority requirements – and it was Tesco’s own acoustic report that said this.

Obviously there is also the tiny matter of not being able to make any deliveries by lorry and not having an alcohol licence, and being highly unlikely to get either.

“An application will be submitted to Cambridge City Council “shortly”.”

That’s very interesting because Raymond Brown told the campaign several times on 8th May that the application would be submitted next week. Shortly is a lot vaguer than next week, and suggests that the decision may not yet have actually been taken.

“Our plans for Mill Road have attracted a lot of attention, but also a lot of misunderstanding. We have always had the consent to operate a shop there, a fact that has often been missing from the public debate.”

Obviously the idea that we did not all know the site was already approved for use as a shop is absurd.

“As with any new store proposal from Tesco, we are keen to talk to any local groups or councillors who wish to discuss our plans.”

Michael Kissman wanted to speak to us in November; we spoke to him in November. He has shown no interest in talking to us since then. The campaign is very much hoping to have the chance to discuss their plans with him in the public inquiry. Suddenly, however, they do not seem to be quite so keen on that anymore…

“The new store will create around 20 jobs.”

This is not true. As the campaign said before, even assuming these are real figures (not just spin), only 2 of these are full time jobs, and they are not net jobs, so you would have to subtract the number of full-time jobs lost as a result of Tesco opening.

“Tesco is reviewing its original plans for an extension.”

Translated, this means Tesco know they are going to lose the appeal and so are considering withdrawing it.

The campaign’s reading of all this is as follows: Tesco are floating the idea of a smaller store both in the paper and in private conversations in order to see if it is likely to be possible (if they will get planning permission and if they will be given permission to make the deliveries they need). If they get the sense that these things will not be forthcoming, then they will go ahead with the appeal because although they expect to lose, there is always an outside chance they might win. If they get the sense that the council will give them the delivery access and planning permission they need for the smaller store, then they will cut their losses on the original plans and go for the smaller store.

It is interesting to note, though, that six of the nine grounds for appeal given by Tesco to the Planning Inspectorate related to the deliveries issue and one was to the air conditioning and refrigeration plant. Whether they try to get permission for a bigger store or a smaller one, these issues are still there. If they do not think their arguments on these points would hold up at appeal, they cannot really think they will hold up at council level either.

No Mill Road Tesco Campaign


Here is the article itself:

Tesco to start work on new store in July

raymond.brown@cambridge-news.co.uk

Home - The site of the proposed Tesco store in Mill Road

The former Wilco store Tesco will replace.

A TESCO will open in Mill Road despite massive protests, the News can reveal.

The supermarket giant yesterday (Thursday, 08 May) dealt a blow to campaigners against the controversial Express store.

Tesco chiefs confirmed they will forge ahead with opening the shop, in a street famed for its unique independent stores.

Work will start on the former Wilco site in July, bosses have announced.

The existing building will be used after an extension was refused by planners – but the No Mill Road Tesco campaign still has a glimmer of hope.

Home - New Tesco

An artist’s impression of how the new Tesco Express store in Mill Road will look.

Tesco bosses have one hurdle left to clear, which is permission for an air conditioning and refrigeration plant.

An application will be submitted to Cambridge City Council “shortly”.

Campaigners claim the store would cause traffic hell, pollution and threaten the future of independent shops.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition against the plans, 600 marched in protest through Cambridge and more than 1,000 sent letters of objection.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign has also opposed to the move, fearing congestion from added delivery lorries as well as dangers to pedestrians and cyclists.

On March 6 councillors from Cambridge City Council’s East Area Committee approved two planning applications for a cash machine and new store frontage and signage.

Permission to operate a shop on the site already existed.

But councillors cited highway concerns when it turned down a bid by Tesco to extend the building for storage, plant and staff areas.

Since then expert designers have been drafted in to draw up plans for the existing building, as the News reported.

Those plans have now been approved by Tesco bosses who are calling in a team of contractors to complete the store.

Michael Kissman, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager, said: “We couldn’t have opened the shop we originally planned without the extension, but we have reviewed the site and developed some plans that will deliver a great shop for customers using the existing space.

“Of course, the store layout and range will be slightly different, but it will still offer a good range of fresh food and basic shopping items.

“Our plans for Mill Road have attracted a lot of attention, but also a lot of misunderstanding. We have always had the consent to operate a shop there, a fact that has often been missing from the public debate.

“I can’t imagine anyone wants this shop unit to sit empty any longer. Our plans will bring the site back into use and improve the frontage – this can only be good for the local area and economy.

“As with any new store proposal from Tesco, we are keen to talk to any local groups or councillors who wish to discuss our plans.”

But Ruth Deyermond, a spokeswoman for the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, has vowed the fight will go on.

She said: “We do not expect to see a Tesco in Mill Road. It is not economically viable and local people will carry on the successful campaign against it. We do not believe Tesco will get planning permission. We will fight it.”

The new store will create around 20 jobs.

Tesco is reviewing its original plans for an extension.

Cambridge Evening News, 9th May 2008

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