Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Officers recommend Tesco Approval

The officers report about the latest Tesco Planning Application (which is for refrigeration plant and equipment that they would like to install in order to open a Mill Road Tesco without their earlier planned extension) is now available here.

As predicted, despite huge numbers of objections from around the City, the recommendation is for approval of the application, subject to conditions to protect local residents from noise nuisance from the plant. The officer has clearly indicated that the application needs to be judged on its merits, not on the merits of opening a Tesco per se, saying:

"In my opinion the application does not raise issues of highway safety, a view shared by the Local Highway Authority, which has chosen not to comment. As rehearsed previously, I do not
share the premise of many of the objectors, that highway safety is an issue in the consideration of the proposals for the condenser and the air conditioning plant, because approval of the plant will make certain the re-opening of the store and the traffic/congestion/safety issues rehearsed through the objections will arise out of that re-opening of a retail use by this applicant."

"While sympathetic to the concerns about the vitality and viability of the area and the perceived implications of the proposal for the well being of the local community and its diversity, I do not
agree with the standpoint that all those issues can be addressed on the back of a proposal for a relatively limited quantity of plant and equipment."

The application will be decided at the East Area Committee, agenda here, to be held:

Date: Thursday 31 July 2008
Time: 7.15pm for 7.30pm start
Place: St Philips Church, 185 Mill Road, Cambridge

In line with my personal policy, I will choose not to take part in deciding planning applications at this meeting despite being a member of the East Area Committee.

What are my views on this? I am not against Tesco's opening on Mill Road in principle, and there are pro's and con's to local residents of the introduction of some aggressive new competition.

That said, there are some very valid concerns about Tesco's plans, notably the impact from deliveries and customers to the local traffic situation. It was quite right for the extension plans to be refused for this reason.

If this application is approved next week (and I am struggling to see how Councillors can realistically object unless there really is something demonstrably dodgy about the noise reports), I think it is time for the objectors to recognise that Tesco has permission to open a store if they wish to do so, and move on to ensuring that all relevant traffic regulations are complied with and not altered for Tesco's convenience at the expense of local residents and other road users. For these aims, the campaigners would have my full support.

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