Tesco is proposing to open their new store on Mill Road, Cambridge, on the 26th of August 2009. The store is to be smaller than Tesco wanted as their application to extend the building was rejected by both city councillors and, when Tesco appealed, a planning inspector. Whether or not the store will be permitted to sell sell alcohol will be determined by a committee of three city councillors sitting on the 17th of August 2009. Another regulatory hurdle being faced by the store arises from the city council apparently considering applying to a court for an injunction to ensure Tesco comply with a planning condition which states: “No loading or unloading of goods, including fuel, shall take place otherwise than within the curtilage of the site”. ie delivery vehicles ought drive into the service yard at the back of the shop and not unload while parked on Mill Road in front of the shop.
On both counts I think it is very important that Tesco is not given any special treatment, I have no ideological views for or against Tesco, I think they ought be treated as any other company would. I am not sure if, as has been reported, Tesco have actually made clear their intention to ignore the planning conditions and make deliveries from the street, but if they have then I fully support those campaigning for an injunction. Having a pre-emptive injunction in-place will enable Tesco to be taken to court very rapidly if they breach it, whereas other methods of enforcing planning conditions can be very slow. I hope that Tesco will show respect for the due processes followed both relating to planning and licensing and will not take the approach of seeing fines or other penalties as merely costs of doing business.
The Licensing Application
Today I visited the guildhall to view Tesco’s licensing application and the representation on it made by the police. The police, via a repetitive and formulaic response prepared by a firm of London solicitors, strongly oppose the granting of a license to sell alcohol. The police representation states:
This representation relates to all four licensing objectives. The police believe that the grant of a premises license in this case would be contrary to the requirement for the licensing authority to carry out its functions with a view to promoting the licensing objectives, namely: the prevention of crime and disorder, the maintenance of public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm.
The belief is based in part upon existing statistical analysis of evidence of incidents of criminal and anti-social behaviour, nuisance and disorder in and around the vicinity of the subject premise [sic], which are located within an area identified by the authority as one where the cumulative impact of the grant of additional premises licences would be such that there would be an increase in such undesirable activities regardless of the manner in which the premises are operated.
Evidence adduced in support of such representations may comprise the first hand knowledge of officers involved, as well as police records from the Command and control logs, police crime files and/or CCTV footage.
I made a freedom of information request for the application and the police representation via the website WhatDoTheyKnow.com; if the council had complied with, rather than rejected, my request the documents would now be available online for public viewing. When I looked at the papers in the guildhall the appendix which was supposed to contain representations from local residents and others was missing. The officer’s report states that one hundred and twenty three representations and a thirty six name petition were submitted. I hope that the councillors considering the application have read the representations – too often when I’ve seen them considering planning applications councillors have not visited the councils offices to read all the papers in advance of the meeting. If the council conducted more of its business electronically then providing detailed information to councilors and the public would be made easier.
The licensing application contained a plan of the new store, showing where the various types of products would be located. It appears almost identical in layout to the Campkin Road store, with slightly more space around the checkouts.
- Conservative Councillor Chris Howell is calling for a special meeting of the East Area Committee “for dealing with Tesco’s announcement that they intend to ignore the planning condition on deliveries when they open their new store on Mill Road.”
- The Cambridge Cycling Campaign are lobbying the council, asking them to enforce the planning condition relating to loading. Vehicles parked on the road while unloading make the road more dangerous and unpleasant for cyclists.
- Ban demanded after Tesco delivery ‘snub’ – Cambridge Evening News
- Clash looms over Tesco deliveries – Cambridge Evening News
- Tesco’s covering letter accompanying their license application and the key pages from the police representation. A PDF document I created following my visit to the council to view the documents.