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Government Asked To Decide On Superstore

By Jo Deeks` on Friday, 13th January 2006.

Haverhill Town Councillors have asked the Government to call in a planning application for a Tesco store, which has already been granted outline approval.

Members of the town council's planning committee agreed to write to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister asking for the plan for the supermarket giant's store on the former Station Yard site at Haverhill to be called in and decided by central government.

The application for a new 6,000 square metre store was granted outline approval by members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council's development control committee last week, despite strong obections from local residents and town councillors, who fear it will cause traffic chaos and threaten the vialbility of the town centre.

The council's planning committee agreed by a majority vote to ask for the call-in, with only Councillor Mary Martin abstaining, after voting in favour of the plan at the borough meeting.

Town clerk Gordon Mussett said one of their main concerns was that the borough council owned a lot of the land involved, which could be seen as a conflict of interest.

Councillors said it was not an ideal time to make a decision on the store, given that an inquiry inspector was considering the future of the site as part of the local plan and was yet to announce his decision.

Members including town mayor Tim Marks, Ed Morton and Ted Trebble also feared that much of the detail of the scheme had still to be agreed.

"The town council felt this is the biggest thing that is going to happen to the town centre for perhaps the next 25 years in terms of how it will affect the rest of the centre," Mr Mussett said.

"We have a duty to make sure that we have done everything we can to get it right. Even if it is not called in we will be able to say we have tried."

At last week's borough meeting, Jeff Dance, Pightle Residents' Association chairman, told the meeting that residents felt it was an inappropriate development for the town.

He said a report from consultants Chestertons in 2004 showed a diversion from local stores to Tesco of 0.38 million or 14 per cent of turn over.

Mr Dance said: "This loss of trade is bound to harm the viability and Vitality of the town centre."

Chris Rand, planning officer, said the need for another supermarket had been supported by Chestertons and a limit had been put on non-food space to limit impact on the town centre.

As part of the plans, the end of The Pightle would be pedestrianised except for access. Congestion would be eased at the Cangle Junction by reduced access to The Pightle and blocking up the entrance to Station Road.

One roundabout would provide the main store entrance at the Swan Lane end of the Pightle and another new roundabout for service vehicles would be provided in Wratting Road.

Haverhill Weekly News

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