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Maps of Tesco stores and local food stores

Tesco’s claims about the need for, and accessibility of, an express store on Mill Road: some maps

Over the course of their applications for planning permission in respect of this site, and their appeals to the planning inspectorate, Tesco have made a number of claims about the need for the proposed Express store and its accessibility by public transport. Some of these have been repeated, and none retracted, in their current application (08/0794/FUL).

We thought it would be useful, therefore, to highlight the existing situation, in the context of which Tesco is making these claims. We have created a number of maps which can be viewed online.

They show:

1. The existing grocery stores and off-licences on Mill Road

In documents submitted as part of their previous applications and their appeals, Tesco have claimed that: “The proposed utilisation of the application site as a Tesco Express convenience store will provide a valuable commodity to local residents and workers by meeting convenience shopping needs” (Planning Design and Access Statement January 2008, Conclusion, paragraph 5.1). Such a statement obviously suggests that these needs are not currently being met.

Our map shows the 1 supermarket, 13 grocery stores, 2 newsagents selling groceries (canned and dry goods), butchers, bakers, greengrocers, delicatessen, vegetarian food store, and the 2 specialist off-licences that currently operate on Mill Road. As the map clearly indicates, it is difficult to imagine a shopping street in the UK less dependent on a Tesco Express to provide “convenience shopping needs”, or one where it would be a less “valuable commodity”.

2. Food stores in the immediate vicinity of the proposed Express site

It might, perhaps, be the applicant’s intention to argue that the urgent need for a Tesco Express to provide grocery shopping applies to the specific area of Mill Road in which the site is located, rather than Mill Road as a whole.

Our second map shows the six stores selling groceries less than 100 metres from the site of the proposed Express, and a seventh approximately 200 metres from the site. As the map shows, the site sits in a cluster of existing food stores; again, it is difficult to imagine a site where an additional generic convenience store is less needed.

3. The existing Tesco-owned stores in Cambridge and the surrounding area

Our third map shows the location of existing Tesco-owned stores in and around Cambridge.

Tesco have consistently claimed that all those not travelling to the store on foot or (in some of their applications) by bike would travel by public transport. As we have argued at length elsewhere, it is simply not plausible to suggest that shoppers would undertake journeys by public transport for the specific purpose of shopping at a Mill Road Tesco Express (as opposed to making quick stops while driving past the site – a form of behaviour for which there is considerable evidence). One of the reasons why this claim lacks credibility is that it is very difficult to identify an area in or around Cambridge which does not already have a nearby Tesco-owned store (Tesco or One Stop). Since it is unlikely that shoppers would choose to visit a more distant Tesco store, rather than one near their homes or workplaces, we are not sure from where shoppers would be arriving by public transport to shop at a Mill Road Express.

4. Existing Tesco-owned stores on train lines from Cambridge

Tesco’s latest application continues to imply that potential shoppers might reach the store by train (“the site is well served by public transport with Cambridge Train Station located approximately 600 metres to the south west”, Planning Design and Access Statement June 2008, paragraph 2.5). It is unclear from which currently Tesco-less town such train journeys would be made however, since as our final map shows, every town on a direct train line to Cambridge either has a Tesco-owned store (in many cases, several) or is closer to another town with existing Tesco-owned stores than it would be to a Mill Road Tesco Express.

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