Archive for 30th September 2008

CEN article: Tesco Mill Road battle lines drawn

BATTLE lines have been drawn between Tesco and Cambridge City Council as the supermarket giant takes its fight to open a store in Mill Road to a planning inspector. 

Tesco is appealing to be allowed to build a single-storey extension at the back of the former Wilco store and install refrigeration equipment after the council rejected the plans. 

The two sides faced each other at the Guildhall in front of planning inspector David Nicholson who said there were two key issues in the case, the effect of the proposals on highway safety and on the provision of parking spaces. 

Tesco maintains the highways authority was fully aware Mill Road was an accident blackspot with congestion issues when it was consulted and did not object to the plans. 

It added vehicles servicing the Co-operative store on Mill Road have been known to travel up Catharine Street and down Sedgwick Street. 

It also argues limited parking spaces are endorsed as a “good thing” in its opening statement, put by its representative Stephen Morgan at the hearing. 

The council disputes the suitability of servicing the store by either delivering to the front on Mill Road, turning into the service yard at the back or travel around the one way streets to get to the store. 

It hired a chartered engineer, Christopher Ackroyd, from BWB Consulting, to assess access to the site following a report commissioned by Tesco which said there was sufficient on street car parking to meet demand generated by the Express store opening and would not impact on safety.

Mr Ackroyd said delivery vehicles parking on Mill Road would “definitely be detrimental to highway safety, especially for cyclists” while travelling north along Catharine Street and back down Sedgwick Street was “certainly not a route I would expect anybody to choose to follow”. 

Questioned on whether the accident figures for Mill Road by the shop were not as bad as for the whole stretch, he replied: “Whether it’s 31st, 1st or 15th, I still say it is a problem.” 

But he was taken to task by Mr Morgan, who said Mr Ackroyd’s assessment that cyclists were equivalent to half a car when looking at the capacity of the road was “flawed” and that a large number of cyclists and low percentage of heavy goods vehicles actually meant there was greater capacity on the road. 

Mr Morgan said: “You would expect a district centre like this, a successful district centre to be busy, especially at peak times. You get some illegal parking wherever, that’s a matter of enforcement. 

“It is not a reason for turning a development away which is otherwise compliant with policy objectives.”

CEN article: D-Day looms in Tesco Mill Road shop battle

TESCO chiefs will today go head-to-head with campaigners in the battle for an Express store.

The saga of the proposed store in Mill Road, Cambridge, which is famed for its independent shops, is set to end.

A public inquiry at 10am will see the supermarket giant bring all its weight to bear on No Mill Road Tesco protesters.

Tesco bosses yesterday confirmed their “commitment” to open their ninth store in the city.

This is despite the site being squatted in by protesters, who were later evicted, as well as protest marches and more than 1,000 planning objections.

Campaign spokeswoman Ruth Deyermond said: “Tesco tell visitors to their website that “it is important a new store opening is welcomed by local people” and that “we work closely with local communities so we understand local issues and concerns”.

“Thousands of local people have been very clear about the fact that a Tesco Express is not wanted or needed in the area and that its dangerous delivery plans would cause huge disruption to drivers, cyclists, buses, and emergency vehicles on Mill Road. Tesco have simply ignored them.

“As we said months ago, if Tesco thought they were likely to win this appeal, they would not have tried – and failed – to open a smaller store in July. We have read Tesco’s evidence to the planning inspector and are looking forward to discussing it with them.”

On the eve of the public inquiry, Mill Road county councillors Nichola Harrison and Kilian Bourke are promoting the idea of the road as an Independent Business Zone.

Cllr Harrison said: “An Independent Business Zone will have to be an informal designation at first, but if it is actively supported by shopkeepers and local residents as well as the city and county councils, we think it has great potential as a force for protecting and improving Mill Road.”

But a Tesco a spokeswoman said the company was going to press ahead: “We have constantly demonstrated our commitment to bringing a small Express store to Mill Road.

“Although we are aware some people are against our proposals, we have been encouraged by a significant number of expressions of support for our scheme.

“Experience shows an Express store can add further vitality to an area like Mill Road and be a real benefit to local businesses.

“It is therefore disappointing that, whilst the shop has existing consent for retail use, the application for relatively minor changes was refused.

“The reasons given for refusal were not in our opinion valid planning reasons and we look forward to putting the facts to the forthcoming inquiry.”

Cambridge Evening News, 30th September 2008