Plans for a 74 new homes and a new supermarket in Peterborough have been refused by councillors.
The application would have seen the demolition of all the buildings on the old British Sugar site at Oundle Road, Woodston, but was defeated yesterday (Tuesday) because the proposal does not have enough affordable housing as part of the project.
A packed meeting at the Town Hall heard from protesters including Cllrs Andy Coles, Alan Dowson and Lucia Serluca who objected saying that the developers had not sufficiently considered the impact on the local community
Cllr Serluca said: “Residents are rightly concerned about the levels of traffic in the area which continues to grow year on year. There is a school nearby, a nursery and the Valley Park Local Centre with its shops right next to this proposed development.
“The number of traffic movements, if this Lidl store were build would eclipse the current levels, and I believe cause severe restrictions to access for emergency vehicles trying to get to the site and the houses surrounding it.”
Cllr Coles added: “Oundle Road is a main artery and a Lidl store would be open all hours of the days and night, seven days a week which would make the traffic levels intolerable on local residents. There would be no respite from the vehicle movements and the introduction of this supermarket would decimate the trade at the small Valley Park Local Centre.”
Cllr Alan Dowson also had concerns, but his were more about the loss of the British Sugar buildings, planned for demolition: “The main facade of the Twentieth Century Society building was an award-winning feature when it was constructed, and it should be saved even though it is not a listed building.
“I am one of the few Councillors left on the Council who was here in 1971 when the developers of the Queensgate Centre wanted to knock down all the historic buildings in the city centre. Just image Peterborough today if we hadn’t fought them at every step of the way to protect our building heritage.
“I know this is not a listed building, but it is unique and has a character all of its own. Sadly, in just the few weeks since it has been closed up it has fallen into severe disrepair, the roof has fallen in and the developers are using that an excuse to say that the building should come down.
“Quoting Mandy Rice-Davies in the Profumo affair, she said ‘Well, they would do, wouldn’t they?’, but that simply isn’t good enough, and I feel that surely the developers could look at their design for the Lidl store and, if it gets planning permission, they should incorporate at least the glass frontage of this magnificent building into their design proposals.”
Also objecting was local resident Mrs Jenny Miller who said: “These plans make no attempt at consideration of emergency vehicle access onto this site. My house is on the end of a row of seven houses just around the corner from where it is proposed this Lidl store be built. If there was a fire in one of them, who knows how many would be on fire by the time the fire engines has struggled and forced their way through the traffic?
“What do you want to see to change your minds? People burned to death in their houses, children run over by the huge increase in the numbers of traffic on these already crammed roads. This development does nothing for our community, it will jam the already busy roads, cause chaos for emergency access and blight the trade at the Valley Park Local Centre.”
Chairman, Cllr Chris Harper enquired of Council Case Officer Amanda McSherry about the emergency access to the area. She replied: “Most of the road leading into the area is already dual carriageway, so there will be no issues there.
“The problems arise when you get nearer to Sugar Road and the Valley Park Local Centre where, we agree, the roads are already quite congested for most of the time with lots of traffic movements throughout the day and night.
“We believe that the roads could handle additional vehicle movements and as with all emergencies the fire engines and ambulances would mount the pavement if necessary to get through.”
However it was Cllr HIller who eventually pointed out the key issue for this application in respect of affordable housing: “I have no real objection in principle to the building of a Lidl store or the 74 houses, nor do I object in to the passionate issues raised by both councillors and local residents about traffic, parking and most particularly the access to the area for emergency services, as I believe the Highways Officer has answered these for me.
“My objection is based solely on the fact that this development only provides for 15% affordable housing, and that simply is not the policy of this Council. We have an affordable housing policy that states 30% as a minimum, and so it if for that reason that I proposed we refuse this application.”
Cllr Shaz Nawaz said: “I agree entirely with Cllr Hiller, and I too have no real concerns with the development of a Lidl supermarket or indeed the 74 houses. I am certain that our Highways Officer is correct that in an emergency the fire engines and ambulances would be able to get through.
“I am very concerned however that this development as it stands only allows for 15% affordable housing which goes completely against Council planning policy of 30% minimum affordable housing for a development of this size.
“As the developers will be offering no other infrastructure in the area, no doctors, dentists, school places or nurseries I simply cannot see what benefit any of this is to the local community, and I would urge my fellow councillors to refuse this application on that basis.”
Cllr Hiller proposed that the planning application be refused solely on the grounds that it did not comply with Council policy on affordable housing. Chairman, Cllr Harper took a vote, from which he abstained, but by a majority decided to refuse the application.
Outside the meeting, pleased local residents Mrs Jenny Miller said: “Obviously we are very happy to win today, but I expect the developers will appeal”, while Mr Aaron Faulkner said: “We’ve won the battle, but we’ve yet to win the war”.
Mr Richard Huteson for developers Rapleys LLP was not available for comment at this stage on whether his clients would consider an appeal.