New taxi cab office, restaurant and retail units in Westgate recommended despite ‘conflict’ concerns

Plans for a new taxi cab office in Westgate, as well as restaurant and retail units, have been recommended for approval despite concerns of a “conflict”.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 5:49 am

The application from Gujjar Investments Limited - relating to the former Maplin store opposite Beales - will be voted on by Peterborough City Council’s planning committee next Tuesday.

Councillors on the committee have been advised to approve the plans which would see the office utilised by people booking a private hire vehicle through the Autocab app.

This is despite the authority receiving 41 objections to the plans, while its own licensing team has also highlighted its opposition.

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There are plans for a new taxi cab office in Westgate
There are plans for a new taxi cab office in Westgate

One of the major concerns, according to a recently released council report, is the “potential conflict between hackney carriage and private hire drivers in terms of competition”.

Private hire vehicles have to by law be pre-booked, while hackney carriage drivers can stop and pick up passengers.

There have been complaints in Peterborough that private hire vehicles have been flouting the law, and the council report notes: “Officers are aware that immediately in front of the application site is a hackney carriage taxi rank, and letters of representation have raised serious concerns with regards to the potential for private hire vehicles to park in this area, potentially taking business illegally.

“These concerns are noted, however, it is understood from the council’s parking enforcement team that private hire vehicles are not permitted to park in these spaces and the enforcement of such would be down to the parking enforcement team and the police, which is a matter separate to the planning process.”

The report adds that “competition between businesses is not a material planning consideration” and cannot impact the decision made by the planning committee.

It also notes that taxis are allowed to pick up passengers on double yellow lines or loading bays, which are currently in place in Westgate.

However, planning officers have recommended that planning permission be granted for an initial two year period to “enable sufficient time to demonstrate that the business can operate without resulting in an adverse highway safety hazard”.

The report adds: “At the end of two year temporary period, a fresh planning application would need to be submitted. If the local planning authority and council’s parking enforcement team were in receipt of reasonable and upheld complaints, this may mean a permanent permission would be resisted.”

The council’s licensing team has objected to the application, stating: “The presence of a taxi cab office in this location would serve no identifiable benefit when considering that there is a well-established taxi rank located immediately opposite the premises and the junction with Park Road.

“As relatively recent history has demonstrated, the private hire booking office (A2B Euro Cars) located at 62 Westgate had a detrimental impact on the ability of hackney carriages to effectively ply for hire from the taxi rank located in the locality of the bus station due to loss of trade.

“If the same were to happen to the taxi rank located opposite the proposed site, the effect would likely be that the hackney carriage trade would migrate to the already congested ranks on Broadway with the potential for this to result in issues relating to congestion and traffic flow.

“Furthermore, and as a consequence, should the proposal be granted in its current form, this would doubtless serve to heighten tensions between the private hire and hackney carriage trade in the area.

“At present there is no information provided regarding parking provision for private hire vehicles. It is reasonable to assume that should a taxi cab office be situated at this location then this will generate an increase in private hire traffic in the locality with private hire vehicles parking, waiting, idling etc. between fares, affecting overall traffic flow and negatively impacting the air quality in an area of heavy pedestrian footfall.”

The other parts of the application include dividing the ground floor into six retail units and providing a restaurant on the second floor.

Neither require planning permission.