Archive for July 2008

CEN article: Planning changes to help smaller shops

INDEPENDENT stores like those on Mill Road, Cambridge could be protected from the arrival of big-name stores if planning rules are tightened.

The Government has announced plans to change the rules to protect small shops and curb “clone-town Britain”.

A tougher “impact test” is being introduced to give councils a better tool to prevent big developments that put small shops and town centres at risk.

It could help residents fight off unpopular commercial developments like Tesco’s plans to open up on Mill Road in Cambridge which was met with a storm of protest. However Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith, leader of Cambridge City Council, who reported the supermarket’s plans to the Office of Fair Trading, demanding an investigation, said it was too early to tell whether the changes proposed would help to preserve the character of Cambridge.

He said: “We will welcome planning policies which give local people an opportunity to express their preference for individuality and character in their shopping areas and we will look with interest to see whether the Government brings forward anything which helps to achieve this.

“Clearly the issues raised during the Tesco debate are ones which local people felt their preferences were not being adequately expressed through the planning system.”

The proposed changes which would affect guidance known as Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for town centres were announced by Hazel Blears, Communities and Local Government Secretary.

She said: “Our priority is to ensure we do not see more and more stretches of the nation’s high streets turned into bland ‘every towns’ where every high street has the same shops, the same look, and the same sterile feel.
“We need more individuality, more small scale independent shops, and a new spirit of independent enterprise on our high streets.

“That’s why we plan to give councils more scope to curb ‘clone-town Britain’ and to block large out-of-town developments that can rip the heart out of town centres and threaten the survival of many high streets and smaller shops.”

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.”

Tesco refusals around the UK – campaigning works!

By way of demonstration that campaigning can work – as if our own two wins against Tesco aren’t enough – we highlight other cases from around the UK where Tesco have failed to receive Planning Consent. Not however that our campaign concerned with Tesco on Mill Road, rather than Tesco as a company per se.

In the Sunninghill case, the grounds for refusal appear to be very similar to our case in Cambridge, and the refusal withstood an Appeal