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.”

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