Archive for the ‘Planning applications’ Category.

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.


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.

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.”

Plan of Tesco’s store, for “upmarket” people

We have noticed some interesting things in Tesco’s store plan, which forms part of their alcohol licence application.

On the balance between types of stock:

  • The proportion of shelf space for alcohol is inconsistent; the list down the side mentions 6 “mods” (shelving units, basically) for beer wine and spirits, but the drawing itself shows 10 “mods” for booze.]
  • 10 out of 82 mods represents 12% of the store’s shelf space to be given over to selling booze.
  • 12% of the store’s shelf space means booze represents twice as much as the total space planned for milk, juice, butter, cheese, meat and poultry combined.

On the basis of these figures, the place looks like an off licence/sandwich and snack shop (lots of crisps and sweets)/newsagents, with not very much of the store selling “real” food.

On the right hand side is marked “Affluence: Upmarket”.

The delivery regime also contains an admission of breaking the planning regulations: “Deliveries: Via Entrance”.

Click to view the full-size version

They are also planning to sell “deserts” …

Air conditioning installed by Tesco

Tesco appear to have installed an air conditioning or refrigeration system at the back of the shop.

There seem to be pipes coming out of the back (where we believe there used to be a window), leading up to the roof.

Tesco have been twice refused permission to install air conditioning when they applied.

We are seeking clarification on whether plant has indeed been installed at the back of the site, and if so, when formal confirmation was given to Tesco by the planning department that no further planning permission was needed, and any data supplied by Tesco to show that there would be no noise impacts from the plant.

Tesco’s second appeal

As you may know, Tesco has appealed against the Council’s decision in July to refuse their application for air conditioning and refrigeration plant. This is (technically) unconnected to the previous appeal against the council’s March 2007 rejection of the extension and air conditioning and refrigeration plant (the one heard at the public inquiry a month ago), so the outcome of this appeal won’t depend in any way on the outcome of the previous appeal.

This means that there will be a second public inquiry, which will be held at some point in 2009. As with the inquiry into the original application, we have all been invited to give our written comments to the planning inspector. The deadline for comments is 11 November (Tuesday of next week).

Some suggested grounds for objection to the application in July can be found at:

Since this is the application that is now being appealed, these objections still stand. It is worth noting that at the last public inquiry (into the application for an extension and air conditioning and refrigeration plant) Tesco confirmed that a store would not be viable unless they could use 10.35 metre lorries to make some of their daily deliveries. This means that if this application for plant is approved then Tesco will definitely use these large vehicles.

Tesco will try to argue that this is just a bit of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment so that issues such as deliveries, parking, and waste and other storage issues are irrelevant. It would be a good idea to mention in your letter (and in your own words) that:

The refrigeration and air conditioning plant is necessary for Tesco to open a store on this site, so any issue relating to the impact of the proposed store on neighbouring homes or on traffic congestion and road safety is directly relevant to the application. This is because approving the application would cause these effects by allowing the store to open. If the store cannot open, these effects will not occur. As a result, they should be considered as part of this appeal.

Please remember that it is not likely to be the same planning inspector as last time, so they will not be familiar with the case or the campaign. That means we need to explain, all over again, what the problems are with a Tesco store on this site (delivery impacts on road safety and traffic congestion in particular).

You can submit comments online at:

or send 3 hard copies of your objections to:

The Planning Inspectorate,
3/16 Eagle Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6PN

The Planning Reference for this appeal is 08/0794/FUL
Land at 163-167 Mill Road, Cambridge
PI Ref – APP/Q0505/A/08/2085159/NWF

(Please be aware that if you submit your comments through the planning portal, any personal information you include (such as contact details) will be visible to anyone who choses to read your objection online.)

Video from July East Area meeting

A member of the public has added this video of the end of our speech to the East Area Committee, 31st July, 2008, to YouTube.

The planning officers’ report: our response

The planning officers have (as usual) recommended approval of Tesco’s most recent application, for the installation of refrigeration and air conditioning plant. We think they are wrong, in planning terms, to recommend approval – in fact, we think that their report cannot be a sound basis for approval because it depends entirely on two false assumptions.

Here is a summary of two main points in our submission:

Continue reading ‘The planning officers’ report: our response’ »

Some Frequently Asked Questions about Tesco Losing The Planning Decision


On March 6 2008, the Council’s East Area Committee (councillors for Romsey, Petersfield, Abbey and Coleridge wards) voted on Tesco’s applications for the old Wilco site at 163-167 Mill Road.

Tesco lost. Here’s how and why.

Continue reading ‘Some Frequently Asked Questions about Tesco Losing The Planning Decision’ »

Councillors reject Tesco’s plans

Councillors have rejected Tesco’s plans for the extension to the building, which was the key planning application, following our Campaign.

Thanks to everyone who helped achieve this first victory!

More news will be posted shortly.


Dear Councillors …

We have now written to all Councillors on the East Area Committee with a letter giving our views on the officers’ report. This is a key document and equips Councillors with well-researched arguments why the store should be rejected, on a whole range of grounds.

Read our letter …