Friday, August 1, 2008

Tesco Defeated at East Area Committee

After around two hours of discussion about the planning merits or otherwise of the installation of a small amount of refrigeration equipment on the back of a shop in Mill Road, Tesco's suffered a defeat at the hands of Councillors on the East Area Committee. Cllrs Smart and Wright voted to oppose the application, whilst Councillors Blencowe, Hebert, Hart and Walker abstained, defeating the proposal. In line with my previous policy, I didn't vote on the application, but did speak to highlight what I saw as the two key issues and ask those deciding to consider them:

Does the fact that Tesco's would like permission for a some refrigeration equipment to be installed before opening a shop mean that all the planning issues related to a Tesco's opening (mainly the traffic impact from deliveries) become factors in whether or not to approve the refrigeration equipment? I suspect not, the officers and Council's legal advisers said not, but in view of the complaints citing this reasoning and the crucial nature of the argument, I argued that Councillors should have received independent legal advice citing previous case law on this point before approving.

Secondly, despite the Council telling Tescos in no uncertain terms to dot the i's and cross the t's on their acoustic impact report, the original efforts from their consultant appeared to be somewhat flawed, to put it mildly. In this case, I suggested, Tesco needed to get their story straight and demonstrate they had done the right investigatory work to prove their proposals complied with local planning policies about noise pollution before permission should be granted.

If the above two concerns had been addressed, I think I would have struggled to have recommended anything other than approval. In the event, 2 Councillors voted to reject the application, which was enough to defeat it. I have to say I'm still a bit confused as to how they phrased their objections to marry the evidence to the planning policies, but that was the result. I can only imagine the grief that a certain acoustic consultant will be put through by some Tesco managers next week.

Many congratulations to all those in the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, who have vigourously opposed Tescos applications. My prediction that this application would get through has been proved wrong. I'm now playing double or quits, and predicting that there will be an appeal against this decision arriving with the planning inspector in the very near future. In the meantime, life goes on at the Mill Road Social Centre...

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Thanks Chris! I thought your speech last night was very balanced in its assessment of the situation.

I suspect you're right, and Tesco will appeal. They are going to have a hard time defending that acoustic report, though, as well as the lack of any plans for waste storage (or anything else) in the application. They will now go forward to the current appeal, against the previous refusal, with a weaker case than if they hadn't made this application. I don't think this was quite what they had in mind...

The social centre has been evicted this morning, incidentally. I spoke to the bailiffs and they said Tesco had booked them to come a week ago - they were obviously expecting to win last night.