Friday, 17 February 2012

Supermarket seige threatens council budget

Last month we reported that Commercial Estates Projects (CEP) had resubmitted a modified application for a superstore in Scotforth for the Public Inquiry to consider in March. We noted that Booths, who already have planning permission to build a supermarket on an adjacent site, had objected to their application.

CEP have now in their turn questioned whether Booth's should have been granted planning permission in the first place, and have applied for a judicial review into the City Council's decision. One objection made by the City Council Planners to the CEP application was that it left no room for a road to be built to link a potential future housing development on Whinney Carr to the A6. Having attempted to amend that oversight in the latest version of their application, CEP allege that Booths should have been under an equal constraint to make provision for a through link road with their earlier application.
Perhaps, we wonder, in the same spirit, there should also be a review of the permission granted to build a university out on the A6 back in the 1960's, given that new development proposals have to avoid adding to congestion on the A6, a constraint the university craftily avoided by arriving before it became a problem.

As we reported before, it has already cost the council £115,000 (ex VAT) to participate in the Public Inquiry, which is set to continue at further expense in March. The council may also now be faced with the expense of preparing yet another legal case for a Judicial Review. However the Lancaster Guardian reports an even more serious problem that this fight over our remaining green spaces and our local trade is bringing to our doorstep. If the judicial review is granted, money that the council had been counting on receiving from the sale of the land to Booths could be delayed beyond 2012/13. If the cash is not received by March 2013 the Council would face a £2.6m funding shortfall. Booth's plans for their new site and for redeveloping their old site will also suffer heavily from delay.

Multinational supermarket chain Tesco are rumoured to be behind the CEP application, which faces widespread local opposition. CEP certainly appear to have considerable funds for litigation at their disposal and the city and its council seem faced with a wolf at the gate set to blow down the house if he isn't let in.

Tesco's tactics led to a 2006 report by Friends of the Earth which noted that "Councillors’ decisions to accept a supermarket’s proposal are influenced by their concerns about how much it will cost the council if the supermarket successfully appeals a rejection."

You can view the amended CEP application on the City Council's website here. (Ref: 11/00022/REF). If you object to their latest proposal for a giant superstore in Scotforth next door to the new Booth's supermarket, take a moment to email the city council at dcconsultation@lancaster.gov.uk or register online through the Planning Department's public access site and register your objection.
Every little helps.

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