Archive for the ‘Media coverage’ Category.

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

CEN article: Mill Road gridlock warning

Home - Fears Tesco lorries will block streets

Image: Campaigners hold a banner the size of a delivery lorry in the car park of the proposed Tesco store.

THE battle against Tesco’s plans for one of the city’s main streets starts tomorrow – amid fears of gridlock and traffic chaos.

The fight to stop the supermarket giant opening an Express store in Mill Road will take another twist as a public inquiry gets under way tomorrow.

And campaigners took to the streets to show their feelings and highlight the congestion deliveries to the store would cause.

The No Mill Road Tesco campaign says it would be a “travesty of democracy” if councillors give the green light for the store to open despite huge opposition.

Protesters believe 40 lorries a week, each taking 40 minutes to deliver to the Express store, will bring traffic to a standstill. They also claim it will be a danger to cyclists, pedestrians and motorists in the narrow road famed for its unique shops.

In a bid to highlight the impact on the road, protesters drove a “lorry” to show the congestion they fear.

They carried a large piece of fabric the size of an HGV to the car park at the back of the proposed shop.
Campaigner Tom Rich said: “These deliveries will not only cause major traffic problems but there is a bigger question of the danger to cyclists and “pedestrians. We are expecting the inquiry sees sense and not make the daft decision of allowing the store to open.”

Tesco is forging on with a planning application for a refrigeration unit despite planning chiefs rejecting the proposals.

Protesters took to the street on Friday in a day of action carrying the “lorry”.

The public inquiry gets under way at 10am at the city’s Guildhall tomorrow (Tuesday, 30 September).

It will hear Tesco’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission to extend the building.

In July, councillors refused another application from Tesco for air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

Tesco had previously gained permission for signs and a cash machine and the site is designated as Class A1 land use, for a shop.

Cambridge Evening News, 29th September 2008

CEN article: Tesco hit with noise notice over city store

Home - Tesco

[Note: The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign has no view beyond Tesco’s potential effect on Mill Road. However, we are highlighting this article, as it comes only a week after Tesco was refused the Mill Road store on noise grounds (and others).]

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has been served with a noise abatement notice on its Newmarket Road store.

Residents claim they are constantly aware of the hum of fans on the site and are woken each morning at about 5am as a unit tied to the in-store bakery is started up.

The problems were first brought to the attention of Cambridge City Council’s environmental health team in April last year, and have been ongoing since that time.

The notice, served “recently” according to a Tesco spokesman, comes after the retail giant was denied crucial planning permission for a refrigeration unit for its proposed new Express store in the city’s Mill Road last week.

Cllr Margaret Wright, whose Abbey ward includes the Newmarket Road Tesco, said: “Since I was elected in May I have had a number of complaints from residents about this and have brought them to the attention of the environmental team.

“Many residents in the block of flats in that area have just one window that points towards the back of the shop and are being woken every morning at around 5am.”

A resident of Riverside Place spoke to the Newsabout the effect the noise is having on him and his neighbours.

He declined to be named but said it was making life very difficult.

The resident said: “All I want is to be able to sleep with my window open. Everyone is pretty ratty with the lack of sleep and it’s like living with the noise of a 747 frankly.

“Not only do we have the constant hum of the cooling compressors on the roof, but we also have the fans linked to the bakery which come on at 5.14am each morning.

“We’ve had the environmental health officer round to come and do testing and so have our neighbours, but it’s about the lack of respect Tesco seem to have had for the community.

“We have asked them nicely, but they have failed to sort it out, so now we’ve had to complain officially.”

A spokesman for the Riverside Place management company confirmed the notice had been served.

“We do regard Tesco as a good neighbour. However, a refitting of the cooling systems on the site for the purposes of energy efficiency has led to unacceptable levels of noise. We are looking forward to a speedy resolution of the matter with Tesco.”

A spokesman for the city council said complaints had been received and the environmental health team was investigating them.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We’re working closely with the environmental health officers and are keen to resolve any issues.”

Cambridge Evening News, 5th August 2008

CEN article: Denied: Tesco’s Mill Road plan fails test

Home - The scene of the proposed Tesco store in Mill Road LOUD cheers greeted a decision by councillors to reject a key planning application by Tesco for a proposed store on Cambridge’s Mill Road.

A packed St Philip’s Church heard impassioned pleas by the No Mill Road Tesco campaign when the East Area Committee met last night to consider the application for the site.

It puts the future of the controversial proposed store, on the site of the old Wilco store, in some doubt.

Tesco had previously gained permission for signs and a cash machine.

Council planning officers had recommended the approval of planning permission for three air conditioning units and a refrigeration unit – but the councillors had other ideas.

Only two councillors actually voted against the application – three were absent, three decided not to take part in the decision-making and four abstained in the crucial vote.

The votes of Cllr Catherine Smart, Lib Dem, and the Green Party’s Cllr Margaret Wright were decisive in giving opponents of Tesco’s plans the outcome they were craving.

Sonia Cooter, the No Mill Road Tesco campaign co-ordinator, addressed the meeting at length and outlined their opposition.

She said she spoke for more than 5,000 who signed a petition and thousands of others who had opposed various applications by Tesco for almost a year.

She said: “Mill Road is recognised as a vibrant, diverse space but it is also a fragile space.”

Central to the group’s case were the inadequacies in an acoustic report submitted by Tesco to assess the noise impact.

She said: “Tesco’s acoustic assessment was done in the wrong place. Figures that were previously estimates later became measurements.”

Addressing the councillors, she concluded: “For 10 months people have been telling Tesco a store is not wanted or needed.

“On behalf of thousands of people I ask you to reject this application.”

Thunderous applause lasting a minute filled the hall before Cambridge Friends of the Earth added their voice of objection.

Nobody from Tesco spoke on the application.

Committee members then considered the application and sought advice from officers on issues ranging from noise levels to the imposition of conditions on the hours delivery vehicles could operate to service the store.

And after a series of questions and debates lasting more than an hour, the application was put to the crucial vote – and the result was greeted with rapturous applause.

Cllr Wright and Cllr Smart’s material grounds for rejecting the application referred to noise pollution and amenity, sustainable development and traffic movements.

After the meeting, Sonia Cooter said: “We are relieved that councillors have rejected this latest application.”

Cambridge Evening News, 1st August 2008

CEN article: Plans for Mill Road Tesco thrown out

The future of Cambridge’s controversial Mill Road Tesco store has been thrown into doubt.

In a night of high drama Cambridge city councillors voted against an application for air conditioning and a refrigeration unit at the site.

Campaigners, who believe Tesco should stay clear of Mill Road because of its reputation for independent traders, were “relieved”.

But Tesco bosses have yet to respond to the latest twist in the saga.

For the full story, see Friday’s News.

Cambridge Evening News, 31st July 2008

CEN article: Lobby urges councillors to scupper Tesco plans

CAMPAIGNERS against plans by Tesco to open up in Cambridge’s Mill Road are urging councillors to refuse the supermarket giant’s latest application tonight.

The company’s plans for air conditioning and a refrigeration unit are the final hurdle in its battle to open an Express store on the street, famed for its mix of independent retailers.

A campaign against the supermarket’s venture has been running since last September and hundreds of objection letters have been sent to Cambridge City Council.

But planning officers have recommended the scheme be approved and councillors will make the final decision tonight.

The No Mill Road Tesco campaign is urging members of the East Area Committee to vote against the recommendation.

Ruth Deyermond, planning coordinator for the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, said: “There is simply no sound basis for approval of this application.

“If you think that issues such as road safety, traffic congestion, and the impact on local residents are relevant, which the planning guidance says they are, then the application needs to be refused.

“But even if you agreed with the planning officer that only the direct impacts of the air conditioning and refrigeration units are relevant then the application would still have to be refused on planning grounds.

“Tesco’s acoustic report is the only evidence on which the planners are asking the councillors to judge the application, and it simply doesn’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.”

Sonia Cooter, campaign coordinator, added: “We were expecting the council’s planning department to recommend approval, but the poor quality of the report has surprised us.

“We are urging everyone in the Mill Road area to come along to the East Area Committee meeting on Thursday, 31 July at 7.30pm in St Philip’s Church, Mill Road, and let our councillors know – this is not acceptable.”

Speaking when the approval advice was announced, Tesco’s Michael Kissman said: “We are pleased with the recommendation. If the plans are approved we have got a team in place and can look at completing the work which needs to be done in the following weeks and months.”

Cambridge Evening News, 31st July 2008

Letter to CEN

Following a recent article in the CEN, our Planning Co-ordinator has responded as follows:

If, by this, you mean that I find it unfortunate that the planners have failed even to note that the grounds for approval are completely unsound, then yes, I’m disappointed. If you mean I think it’s surprising that the planners are relying entirely on an acoustic report paid for by Tesco – a report which a professional in the field has told the planners is unreliable – then yes, I’m disappointed. If you mean I think it’s very regrettable that the council website wrongly told local people trying to object on line that the deadline for for objections had passed when it hadn’t, then yes, I’m disappointed.

It’s also disappointing that Tesco are wasting local taxpayers’ money with this application when they clearly don’t intend to open a store with it. It’s disappointing that Tesco care so little about this application that they couldn’t even be bothered to submit all the correct documents (such as an accurate site plan) when they applied. It’s disappointing that a company that claims to listen to local communities is happy to ignore thousands of local people on issues as important as road safety and traffic congestion.

But am I disappointed in the sense in which you claimed? No. Tesco have lost every battle so far and I do not expect their losing streak to end with this slipshod application which has all the same problems as the other, failed applications before it.

Ruth Deyermond
Planning Co-ordinator
No Mill Road Tesco Campaign

Here is the original article:

Tesco poised to win Mill Road battle

TESCO is set to win its battle for Mill Road as its plans for air conditioning and a refrigeration unit are recommended for approval.

The planning application is the final hurdle for the company which first submitted plans for the former Wilco store in the popular Cambridge street last September.

It seeks permission to install three air conditioning units at the back of the shop and erect a refrigeration compound.

Tesco says the planning permission it already has for signs and a cash machine means it can open a store in Mill Road.

If the current application is granted by councillors on Thursday,July 31, work will start as soon as possible.

The site is currently occupied by squatters who have set up the Mill Road Social Centre but the supermarket giant has already secured a possession order which will force them to move before work starts.

Hundreds of objections to the plans have been received by Cambridge City Council but case officer Angela Briggs said the issue was not whether Tesco should open up on the street, but whether the application was in line with the rules.

In a report to councillors, Mrs Briggs wrote: “Despite being very aware of local concerns about the perceived implications of this development and the genuine concerns raised, I do not consider there to be good, clear cut and sound reasons for refusing the application for the condenser and the air conditioning plant and approval is therefore recommended.”

The No Mill Road Tesco campaign said it was disputing the acoustic report submitted with the application and also claimed the inclusion of a condition on delivery times conflicted with the report’s assertion that debates over car parking and deliveries were not relevant.

Ruth Deyermond, from the campaign, said: “We are obviously disappointed that they have recommended approval again.”

Michael Kissman, speaking on behalf of Tesco, said: “We are pleased with the recommendation and will now wait for the final decision.

“If the plans are approved we have got a team in place and can look at completing the work which needs to be done in the following weeks and months.”

Cambridge City Council’s east area committee will consider the application when it meets at St Philip’s Church, Mill Road on July 31 at 7.30pm.

Cambridge Evening News, 25th July 2008

CEN article: Anti-Tesco protesters gear up for next fight

BATTLE plans to stop Tesco opening in Mill Road are being drawn up by protesters.

The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign is meeting next week to thrash out its next move.

They are determined to stave off the march of the supermarket giant into the street famed for its unique independent shops.

The move comes after Tesco bosses vowed to start work on the controversial shop in July, as the News reported.

They decided to go ahead with the store despite being refused planning permission for an extension.

That proposal was kicked out by councillors in March after more than 1,000 letters of objection and street protests.

Now Tesco chiefs have one more bridge to cross – planning permission for an air conditioning and refrigeration plant.

But the next meeting of council planners will be on July 31, which protesters say may scupper Tesco from starting work as planned.

Campaigners believe the bid will be blocked because Tesco’s announcement that it will start work in the store before the application is heard will “alienate” councillors.

And they have vowed to carry on fighting the supermarket giant, which already has more than 50 per cent of the grocery trade in the city.

Campaign spokeswoman Ruth Deyermond said: “Obviously they could, in theory, start work on the site before the council vote, but I can’t think of a quicker way to alienate the councillors than Tesco giving the impression that they expect any application they make to be simply nodded through.”

In the last six months, Tesco planning applications for stores in Poynton, Cheshire, Stourbridge, Inverness, Sheringham, Norfolk, Bradford and Mill Road in Cambridge, have been rejected, giving hope to campaigners.

A Tesco spokesman said: “The planning application will go through the normal democratic process, and we will await the outcome.”

CEN article: Planning changes to help smaller shops

INDEPENDENT stores like those on Mill Road, Cambridge could be protected from the arrival of big-name stores if planning rules are tightened.

The Government has announced plans to change the rules to protect small shops and curb “clone-town Britain”.

A tougher “impact test” is being introduced to give councils a better tool to prevent big developments that put small shops and town centres at risk.

It could help residents fight off unpopular commercial developments like Tesco’s plans to open up on Mill Road in Cambridge which was met with a storm of protest. However Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith, leader of Cambridge City Council, who reported the supermarket’s plans to the Office of Fair Trading, demanding an investigation, said it was too early to tell whether the changes proposed would help to preserve the character of Cambridge.

He said: “We will welcome planning policies which give local people an opportunity to express their preference for individuality and character in their shopping areas and we will look with interest to see whether the Government brings forward anything which helps to achieve this.

“Clearly the issues raised during the Tesco debate are ones which local people felt their preferences were not being adequately expressed through the planning system.”

The proposed changes which would affect guidance known as Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for town centres were announced by Hazel Blears, Communities and Local Government Secretary.

She said: “Our priority is to ensure we do not see more and more stretches of the nation’s high streets turned into bland ‘every towns’ where every high street has the same shops, the same look, and the same sterile feel.
“We need more individuality, more small scale independent shops, and a new spirit of independent enterprise on our high streets.

“That’s why we plan to give councils more scope to curb ‘clone-town Britain’ and to block large out-of-town developments that can rip the heart out of town centres and threaten the survival of many high streets and smaller shops.”