Developer which threatened legal action over rival supermarket bid accepts defeat but vows to keep an eye on things

10:14 22 July 2014

Downham Road, Ely.

Downham Road, Ely.

Archant

A developer has admitted defeated – for now at least – in the battle to build a new multi-million pound retail and business park in Ely.

Cambridge Property Group announced on Monday that it had put plans for a new Tesco superstore and retail park at Downham Road “on hold” in light of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s decision to back rival plans.

But the group, backed by Fenland entrepreneur Richard Sears, said it would “refocus its efforts” on its plans if no progress was made by its rival, Healy Investments, in building its Tesco-led development at Angel Drove.

A spokesman for Cambridge Property Group said: “We put together a far superior scheme in the right part of Ely that would be able, not only to relocate Tesco, but gave the unique opportunity to provide local enhancements to the football club and sports clubs there.

“It is unfortunate that the council has so far failed to grasp the significantly more attractive benefits for it and the local community that our Hereward Park scheme can deliver.

“We will wait and see what happens over the forthcoming months and as appropriate, refocus our efforts on our scheme if no progress is made at Angel Drove.”

Cambridge Property Group said it offered the district council £3million to buy land at Downham Road, £500,000 of which was to be paid upon receipt of planning permission, a further £2.288million in community infrastructure levy payments and an additional £75,000 every time a new business moved into the development.

The group also claimed it offered the council the right to veto the brands moving on to the business park and promised to relocate every sports club using the Downham Road site to new premises. These include Ely City Football Club and Ely Outdoor Sports Association, home of Ely Tigers Rugby Club and the city’s hockey and tennis clubs.

In all, the group claimed its deal was worth £5,738,000 to taxpayers compared, it said, to £2million from the Healy development.

But councillors on the planning committee were unmoved, even shrugging off a threat of possible legal action from Cambridge Property Group, and voted to back Healy’s plans at its meeting on July 2.

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