Archive for 1st August 2008

CEN article: Denied: Tesco’s Mill Road plan fails test

Home - The scene of the proposed Tesco store in Mill Road LOUD cheers greeted a decision by councillors to reject a key planning application by Tesco for a proposed store on Cambridge’s Mill Road.

A packed St Philip’s Church heard impassioned pleas by the No Mill Road Tesco campaign when the East Area Committee met last night to consider the application for the site.

It puts the future of the controversial proposed store, on the site of the old Wilco store, in some doubt.

Tesco had previously gained permission for signs and a cash machine.

Council planning officers had recommended the approval of planning permission for three air conditioning units and a refrigeration unit – but the councillors had other ideas.

Only two councillors actually voted against the application – three were absent, three decided not to take part in the decision-making and four abstained in the crucial vote.

The votes of Cllr Catherine Smart, Lib Dem, and the Green Party’s Cllr Margaret Wright were decisive in giving opponents of Tesco’s plans the outcome they were craving.

Sonia Cooter, the No Mill Road Tesco campaign co-ordinator, addressed the meeting at length and outlined their opposition.

She said she spoke for more than 5,000 who signed a petition and thousands of others who had opposed various applications by Tesco for almost a year.

She said: “Mill Road is recognised as a vibrant, diverse space but it is also a fragile space.”

Central to the group’s case were the inadequacies in an acoustic report submitted by Tesco to assess the noise impact.

She said: “Tesco’s acoustic assessment was done in the wrong place. Figures that were previously estimates later became measurements.”

Addressing the councillors, she concluded: “For 10 months people have been telling Tesco a store is not wanted or needed.

“On behalf of thousands of people I ask you to reject this application.”

Thunderous applause lasting a minute filled the hall before Cambridge Friends of the Earth added their voice of objection.

Nobody from Tesco spoke on the application.

Committee members then considered the application and sought advice from officers on issues ranging from noise levels to the imposition of conditions on the hours delivery vehicles could operate to service the store.

And after a series of questions and debates lasting more than an hour, the application was put to the crucial vote – and the result was greeted with rapturous applause.

Cllr Wright and Cllr Smart’s material grounds for rejecting the application referred to noise pollution and amenity, sustainable development and traffic movements.

After the meeting, Sonia Cooter said: “We are relieved that councillors have rejected this latest application.”

Cambridge Evening News, 1st August 2008

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