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

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