Archive for October 2008

CEN article: Anxious wait as Tesco appeal hearing closes

Home - The former Wilco site where Tesco wants to move in.

The former Wilco site where Tesco wants to move in.

OPPONENTS of Tesco’s plans for a branch in Mill Road, Cambridge, are anxiously waiting for a decision on a planning appeal which has closed after four days of evidence.

The appeal, heard at The Guildhall, finished yesterday following a site visit to the former Wilco store.

Now David Howarth, Cambridge’s MP, is calling for planning rules to be changed so councils can keep supermarkets out of areas dominated by independent shops.

He spoke out as Tesco waits to hear if its appeal to build an extension and install plant equipment at a shop in Mill Road, which will allow it to open an Express store, has been successful.

Mr Howarth sat in on day three of the appeal in front of inspector David Nicholson.

One of the issues Mr Nicholson quizzed the council’s witnesses on was whether its approach would have been different if the shop’s previous owners Wilco had made the application.

Despite widespread concern at the supermarket giant’s decision to move into Mill Road, a desire to maintain the street’s independent image is not a planning consideration and Mr Howarth believes it should be.

He is backing local councillors Nichola Harrison and Kilian Bourke’s efforts to have Mill Road designated an Independent Business Zone and would like to see the Retail Development Bill, which has been going through the House of Lords, to become law.

This would divide shops into three classes and allow councils to keep larger stores out of an area if they want to.

Mr Howarth told the News: “The law should be changed so that it’s clear local authorities have the power to shape their own areas.

“It should be possible for a council to choose to make a particular shopping street a zone for independent shops and businesses. If they want to promote national chains, big supermarkets, they can do that. If they want a mix they would be allowed to that.

“Very rarely is the identity of the person holding that permission relevant. One of the things this bill does is it has three different kinds of shops.

“What Cambridge City Council wants to be able to do is distinguish between independent businesses where the money is going to stay in the community more and national and international businesses.”

The city council rejected Tesco’s plans, saying they would pose a risk to public safety and did not provide sufficient parking spaces.

Tesco dispute this and say there is sufficient on-street car parking in the area and the store would benefit residents by meeting convenience shopping needs, increase footfall in the area and bring an empty shop back into use.

A decision is expected in November.

Cambridge Evening News, 4th October 2008

CEN article: Weight ban ‘of no use’

TESCO has told a planning inspector its Mill Road store will be useless if large lorries are banned from making deliveries.
One of the reasons Cambridge City Council rejected the supermarket’s application for a single-story extension and installation of plant equipment at the former Wilco site was that the only way of servicing the store using 10.3 metre-long rigid axle vehicles was via Mill Road, putting public safety at risk and holding up traffic.

Planning inspector David Nicholson asked Rupert Lyons, director of Pinnacle Transportation Limited, appearing for Tesco, whether the store could operate without those vehicles.

He said: “If, for example, I were to apply a condition to a permission that said no vehicles above the size of, say, a transit van, could deliver, would that permission be worth anything to you?”

Mr Lyons replied: “I don’t believe so, no sir.”

There are three options for deliveries: stopping on Mill Road; driving around a loop of Catharine Street and Sedgwick Street, or vehicles being allowed to access Sedgwick Street from Mill Road, which would require a change to traffic rules.

The inquiry heard Cambridgeshire County Council is unlikely to grant a traffic regulation order to allow access to the rear yard from Mill Road, although Tesco is willing to pay for the move if the highway authority changes its mind.

Asked how he would service the Tesco Express, Mr Lyons said the “pragmatic approach” would be for deliveries of newspapers, mail and milk to be made from Mill Road before 8.15am and the larger deliveries made to the back of the store.

In the afternoon, Tesco’s second witness Matthew Roe, director of planning at CgMs Ltd, gave evidence.

He said Tesco’s plans would provide “a valuable facility to local residents and workers by meeting convenience shopping needs”.

He said the proposed extension would have a “positive impact” on Mill Road and increase footfall as well as bringing a vacant unit back into use.

The planning appeal concludes today.

Cambridge Evening News, 3rd October 2008

Tesco thinks blocking Mill Road is acceptable

It is clear from the evidence at the Appeal hearing currently taking place that Tesco and their transport consultant think that blocking Mill Road for twice 41 minutes per day (or potentially more in practice) for their deliveries with 34ft lorries would not cause “significant” disruption to safety and flow of traffic.

Here is a video we have been sent which displays the kind of chaotic scenes caused by lorry deliveries already. We argue that the problem should not be allowed to be made worse.

Public Inquiry Speech – our opening statement

[This was followed by our Planning Statement which will be online in due course. This speech below was to set the tone for why we exist.]

I would like to make a brief statement explaining to the inquiry the reason for the existence of the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, before handing over to my colleague Dr Deyermond, who will cover the campaign’s planning objections to Tesco’s applications.

After all, as a Planning Inspector you visit many towns, making decisions in accordance with national and local planning policy. For someone representing Tesco, this is simply another relatively small store in another street in another town. Next week, no doubt, there will be another case involving another store in another street in another town.

For us, though, this is our town, and our community, and we think it is worth fighting for.

Continue reading ‘Public Inquiry Speech – our opening statement’ »

CEN article: Opening salvos fired at start of Tesco inquiry


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 its 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 problems when it was consulted and did not object to the plans.

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

The council disputes the suitability of servicing the store by delivering to the front in Mill Road, turning into the service yard at the back or travelling around the oneway streets to get to the store.

It hired chartered engineer Christopher Ackroyd, 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 it would not impact on safety.

Mr Ackroyd said delivery vehicles parking on Mill Road would “definitely be detrimental to highway safety, especially for cyclists”.

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, first or 15th, I still say it is a problem.”

But he was taken to task by Mr Morgan, who said 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.

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

Later, the inspector heard from two local councillors, Nichola Harrison, who represents Petersfield, and Killian Bourke, from Romsey.

Cllr Harrison said Tesco was trying to squeeze a “quart into a pint pot” by extending the store and that the shop had operated successfully as it was in the past and could do so again.

Cllr Bourke said: “I cannot see how anyone could seriously propose that Tesco delivery vehicles park on Mill Road for up to 40 minutes at a time. This flies in the face of common sense.”

The hearing is expected to continue until Friday.