Archive for August 2009

East Area Committee decides to take no immediate enforcement action against Mill Road Tesco

At today’s East Area Committee, a daytime meeting attended by around 100 people and a meeting seeing uproar at the conduct of the charing of the meeting by Cllr Blencowe, it was decided:

In light of the assurances given by Tesco including by letter dated the 17th of August 2009 and subject to receipt of a satisfactory undertaking on its part to comply with the condition regarding deliveries, no further action is taken at present.

And

that the Director of Environment and Planning and the Head of Legal Services are given full delegated powers to take enforcement action in the event that Tesco breach the planning condition requiring no loading or unloading of goods, including fuel, to take place otherwise than within the curtilage of the site.

It was noted by one speaker that a representative of Tesco was present at the back of the meeting, but he did not announce his present, and he refused a direct invitation (by that public speaker) to speak.

[Subsequent edit: The Minutes of the meeting are now available.]

Separately, our legal action is continuing.

A very full and accurate report of the meeting has been published by independent resident, Richard Taylor, on his blog, which we recommend all supporters to read.

We agree with the comments made by one reader of that blog that

“chair Cllr Blencowe conducted the meeting in a dreadful manner. He managed to antagonise the entire crowd of about 100 people by continually interrupting speakers and preventing them making their points.”

and we are considering what action, separately, to take on that issue.

Legal update

A considerable amount of legal correspondence regarding High Court action is being undertaken by our lawyer at present, between ourselves, Tesco’s legal representative and Cambridge City Council. This is in the light of various announcements and statements from both Cambridge City Council and Tesco themselves relating to the planning conditions, their enforcement, and delivery options.

We will publish a more detailed update as soon as possible.

Thank you to the very many of you who have contributed to our legal fund. Further donations can be made at Arjuna or Libra Aries.

Letter to nearby residents

We have written a letter to nearby residents on the issues they will be facing when Tesco starts its daily lorry deliveries.

CEN article on security guard

The Cambridge Evening News has today published an article concerning the hiring of a security guard at the Tesco site. Local residents such as ourselves are well aware that Tesco have in fact had a security guard present for over a week, and that this story is not in fact news.

The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign has always conducted its activity through entirely peaceful and lawful means. We note that the article did not feature any quotation from us.

We have always undertaken entirely legal and legitimate campaigning activity. We condemn any activity which involves violence, damage to property or non-courteous approaches to Tesco’s employees or contractors. Also, we were not connected to the squatting activity.

Delivery options: key points

Tesco have pursued two delivery options for their large lorries. Here are key quotes, with sections in bold being our emphasis:

1. Delivery from Mill Road:

Tesco have said:

“We will deliver to the front of the store as the previous occupants did and as do most retailers on Mill Road.”

Deliveries via the front entrance was also clearly marked on the plans presented at the licensing committee meeting, where Tesco lost their application to be allowed to sell alcohol on Mill Road.

The City Council planning department have said:

“There is a lawful planning consent for the use of 163-167 Mill Road for retail use which requires deliveries to be made only from a rear service yard. We are urgently contacting Tesco to establish the company’s intention for the premises given the lawful consent. If it becomes clear that enforcement action may be necessary then the officers will report to members as soon as possible on options for further action”

and

“There is no hard evidence of a continuous 10-year breach by the previous occupant.”

And the government inspector, concluded (when judging Tesco’s now-failed attempt to add an extension) that:

“I find that the Mill Road delivery option would pose unacceptable risks to highway safety in general, and for cyclists in particular.”

“I conclude that it would be unacceptable for 10.35m long lorries to load and unload from Mill Road. […] In my opinion this was also the purpose of the condition imposed in 1972.”

2. Delivery around ‘the loop’ (Catharine Street and Sedgwick Street):

Tesco have now said:

“As you know the building does have a planning condition, which dates back quite a way that requires deliveries to be made to the rear doors.  This condition was in force prior to the surrounding roads being made into a one way system and would now require delivery vehicles to drive along residential streets.

“As part of our good neighbour policy we always consider local residents and neighbours and this was certainly a factor in our choice to deliver to the front of the store, as did the previous occupants, and most of the other traders along Mill Road do.

“Although we think this is probably the best option for the area I would like to confirm that we plan to service the store from the rear.”

i.e. drive round the loop into the rear of the site, manoeuvre a lorry in (and hope that there is space left in the car park).

Their consultant previously said [link], however:

“Due to the one way nature of Sedgwick Street access to the rear of the site would be via the ‘loop’ formed by Catharine Street and Sedgwick Street. This arrangement has the potential to cause detriment to the amenity and safety of local residents, due to multiple delivery movements per day with what will still be large vehicles. There is the also potential that poorly parked vehicles on could block access, requiring long and potentially dangerous reversing manoeuvres or police action.”

And the government inspector, concluded (when judging Tesco’s now-failed attempt to add an extension) that:

the loop option “would pose a significant increase in the risk of accidents, damage and injury to vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians around the loop”.

I find that both of the realistically available servicing options would pose unacceptable risks to highway safety, which would not be outweighed by benefits or the fallback position. I therefore conclude that both appeals should be dismissed.”

FoI request: response received

On 22nd July 2009 we wrote to the City Council planning department with some Freedom of Information requests relating to planning issues at the site. We have now received a response.

Here is the City Council’s response to our FoI request, which also contains our questions interleaved.

Key extracts from it are:

[On the question of whether the previous occupant breached the planning condition that unloading must take place within the site:]

“There is no hard evidence of a continuous 10-year breach by the previous occupant.”

[On the question of the Council’s position on Tesco failing to obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness for the site:]

“There has been no decision by the City Council planning officers or others, “to reverse the Council’s position that a Certificate of Lawfulness application by Tesco in relation to 163-167 Mill Road, Cambridge, would enable the Council to “make a proper assessment of the proposed works and give an informed formal legal view as to whether or not these works require planning permission””.”

[On the question of Tesco installing air conditioning:]

“The Council has been advised at meetings that all the air conditioning plant is now to be inside the building. There has however, despite requests, been very little information forthcoming, between 1 December 2008 and 22 July 2009, about what plant is to be introduced inside the building.”

Tesco reply to David Howarth MP’s letter

Tesco have today replied to David Howarth’s letter asking why Tesco plan to break the law.

Here is Tesco’s reply to David Howarth’s letter.

It contains some interesting statements. Tesco themselves have now said (our emphasis):

“As you know the building does have a planning condition, which dates back quite a way that requires deliveries to be made to the rear doors.  This condition was in force prior to the surrounding roads being made into a one way system and would now require delivery vehicles to drive along residential streets.

“As part of our good neighbour policy we always consider local residents and neighbours and this was certainly a factor in our choice to deliver to the front of the store, as did the previous occupants, and most of the other traders along Mill Road do.

“Although we think this is probably the best option for the area I would like to confirm that we plan to service the store from the rear.”

i.e. drive round the loop into the rear of the site, manoeuvre a lorry in (and hope that there is space left in the car park).

CEN article: Tesco fails to win licence for drinks

john.downing@cambridge-news.co.uk

Cambridge - Tesco site Mill RoadTESCO’S new store in Mill Road will open without booze after city councillors rejected its application for a drinks licence.

The licensing sub-committee’s decision yesterday was greeted by loud applause from campaigners who had fought the supermarket giant’s plans every step of the way.

Ruth Deyermond, planning coordinator of the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, hailed the decision “a victory for common sense and the community”.

Solicitor Jeremy Bark put the case for Tesco’s application, saying the store would open “in any event” on August 26.

Tesco sought a licence to sell alcohol from 10am-10pm seven days a week.

He said 7 to 8 per cent of the sales at a typical Tesco Express are alcohol and the company had a “good history of working with police” to ensure all sales were legal.

Cambridgeshire police opposed the application, arguing further alcohol sales would exacerbate alcohol-related problems.

The Mill Road area was designated a “cumulative impact zone” in May 2008, meaning new applications would normally be refused unless the applicant could show it would not add to drink-related trouble.

Insp Marcia Nichols said the area suffered a “disproportionate” level of alcohol-related trouble and was already a “hotspot for violence”.

Dr Deyermond, speaking on behalf of the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, told the meeting the application was “totally inappropriate” in a cumulative impact zone.

Janette Evely, a parent from Argyle Street and a teacher at St Philip’s Primary School, said pupils often encountered antisocial behaviour related to street drinking, and Mill Road did not need another outlet selling drink.

Cllr Mike Dixon, sub-committee chairman, announced the application was rejected for its failure to adequately address the cumulative impact policy and the council’s planning policy.

Dr Deyermond said: “We think this is a victory for common sense and the community.”

Insp Nichols said: “The issue was never about Tesco. The increase in sales of alcohol by any premises would have had a detrimental impact.”

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed but are looking forward to opening the store on August 26 as planned.”

Cambridge Evening News, 18/08/2009

East Area Committee to discuss planning enforcement at Tesco site

A meeting of the East Area Committee is to take place this Thursday to discuss planning enforcement at the Tesco site.

Date: Thursday 20 August 2009
Time: 10am
Place: St Phillips Church, 185 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 3AN

The agenda has now been published.

The City Council previously issued a public statement recognising the validity of the planning condition preventing lorries unloading from on Mill Road for this site:

“There is a lawful planning consent for the use of 163-167 Mill Road for retail use which requires deliveries to be made only from a rear service yard. We are urgently contacting Tesco to establish the company’s intention for the premises given the lawful consent. If it becomes clear that enforcement action may be necessary then the officers will report to members as soon as possible on options for further action”

* Read our FAQ for the latest on all aspects of the Mill Road Tesco issue. A legal update will also follow soon.

We would ask supporters to gather outside St Phillips Church at 9.30 to express our view that deliveries by Tesco to the site will be dangerous. Please bring any transport-related banners.

STOP PRESS: Tesco lose application for an alcohol licence

Tesco have failed in their attempt to obtain a licence to sell alcohol on Mill Road, an area with a known alcohol problem that is also a Cumulative Impact Zone.

[Update: Minutes of the meeting are now available.]

The police, represented by a legal team, objected in strong terms to the application.

Our representative, together with other local residents spoke at the hearing. Thanks to all who opposed the application (121 representations, vs. 2 in favour) and/or took part in activity to prevent this.

So far, therefore, Tesco have:

  • Lost a planning application and Public Inquiry to build an extension
  • Lost a planning application and pulled out of a Public Inquiry for air conditioning
  • Have a planning condition requiring them only to deliver from within the site (i.e. not from Mill Road), a matter on which we are currently seeking enforcement
  • Lost an attempt to sell alcohol

Tesco state on their website that:

“We do not apply for licences in areas with known disorder issues”

We wonder what they thought they were doing on Mill Road …