Plans for new supermarket for Soham

DEVELOPERS are in talks with three major supermarket chains to discuss plans that will transform Soham and bring hundreds of new jobs to the area.

Harrier Developments has unveiled proposals to develop a “Northern Gateway” in The Shade area of the town and is currently negotiating with two national retailers.

The planning application is for a mixed use development, which will include a foodstore with a petrol station, employment/light industrial land and a recreational area.

A spokesman for Harrier Development told the Ely Standard: “Soham is not served well by modern day facilities or services in the town and this encourages a very high proportion of out-commuting. Overall, concerns have been raised by the district council over the long-term vitality of the town which reinforces the need to promote and encourage future commercial and employment growth.

“The recent household survey work undertaken by Harrier has confirmed that the great majority of people living in Soham are forced to travel to towns elsewhere, such as Ely, Newmarket and Cambridge, to gain access to jobs, services and modern food store shopping facilities.”

Harrier says the development will complement existing convenience shops in the town centre and it hopes the provision of employment land will attract new businesses to the area.

“The development will also bring a new public open space with play equipment, road improvements; and a new community bus servicing the town. Most importantly, the development will provide much- needed local jobs. The foodstore alone is expected to provide up to 200 new jobs,” the spokesman added.

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A planning application for the development will be submitted in the next few weeks and, if successful, work on the development could start towards the end of 2012, with the store opening in early 2013.

Harrier will be holding a public exhibition, where the planning application can be viewed and local people will be able to ask questions and give their views, at The Pavilion in Fountain Lane, Soham, on Friday, January 13, from 2pm till 5pm and Saturday, January 14, from 10am till 1pm.

Supermarket giant Asda has already unveiled a proposal for a small store in the town as part of new development near the Downfields area of Fordham Road, which is also set to feature 35 new affordable homes.

The outline proposals were presented to the planning committee of Soham Town Council before Christmas and the plans will form part of a public exhibition expected in the spring at the Walter Gidney Pavilion.

A spokesman for Asda said that although there were no “concrete plans” in place the chain would be conducting a feasibility study in the coming weeks.

“Asda is certainly keen to bring its famous low prices to the Soham area along with the jobs

business and attract new businesses to the town, helping to provide more jobs locally.”

Cllr Peter Moakes, leader of East Cambs District Council, said any proposal for new development in the town would have to fit in with the needs of the Soham Masterplan.

He said: “Obviously we will welcome any development which provides new employment opportunities in these tough times. I do also believe that Soham needs more out-of-town services.

“As with all planning applications, the council will consider each one, but these plans will have to be in accord with the Soham Masterplan, which sets out how Soham needs to grow and develop in the coming years.”