Asda threaten judicial review of decision to allow 41,000 sq ft out of town supermarket at Soham

PUBLISHED: 09:11 17 July 2014 | UPDATED: 09:11 17 July 2014

New Asda store in Soham, official opening. Picture: Steve Williams.

New Asda store in Soham, official opening. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

Asda threatened a judicial review of the decision to allow a 41,000 sq ft out of town supermarket at Soham.

Taken from the developers plans submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council, for the proposed superstore at Soham.Taken from the developers plans submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council, for the proposed superstore at Soham.

The supermarket chain – which bought and extended Budgens in Soham earlier this year-, also challenged the legality of the decision to allow the store.

But Sue Wheatley, principal development manager officer of East Cambs District Council, says planners have done nothing wrong.

ASDA complained that planners had failed to accurately assess the impact on the out of town supermarket at The Shade on the “existing, committed and planned” investment in the town centre.

They also claimed the impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre had not been properly considered.

But Ms Wheatley has hit back insisting her officers had drawn councillors’ attention to the need to apply what is known as a sequential test.

As part of the councillors’ decision a year ago they had visited Soham “looking at the town centre opportunity sites identified in the draft local plan”.

Detail of ASDA’s threat has emerged in council reports and their response made public this week following a request by the Ely Standard.

ASDA, through their agents Thomas Eggar, told the council of their concerns about the impact of The Shade on Budgens “and the harmful effect” it could have on the town centre.

Thomas Eggar told planners that agreed with the county council that The Shade proposals fell outside of statutory guidance and was “outside the development envelope of Soham”.

Mr Eggar also insisted the backers of The Shade had failed to show there was a need for another supermarket and it was against the “town centre first” policy supported by Portas review.

He said that “rather than allowing for the proposed development to be granted and expose the council to judicial review” it should be reconsidered by the planning committee.

But Ms Wheatley said the planning committee had been aware of case law regarding competing interests of supermarkets.

“Notwithstanding this, the committee resolved to grant planning permission” she said.

She also pointed out that that the Shade application remains “pending” as the conditions are all yet to be met.

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