Cambs County Council objects to plans for supermarket in Soham

CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council has weighed into the debate over plans for a new superstore in Soham this week – calling for the idea to be scrapped.

The council claims the scheme is seven times the size of extra shopping space needed in the town, is outside the development boundary and “clearly conflicts” with core strategy that seeks to strengthen town centres.

It also claims that the scale of the proposed 41,000sq ft store, petrol station and pub off The Shade will have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Soham’s shopping area, will increase traffic and disturb residents.

Furthermore, the council points out that the proposed out-of-town superstore would be opposite the proposed new primary school and nursery school planned for council land west of The Shade, and that the proposed roundabout is currently outside the application site.

Last week county councillor Fred Brown, of Littleport, came out in favour of the plan for a new development east of The Shade.

He said: “I think support in Soham for the new store is very high and it is long overdue.”

But this week a letter of objection behalf of the county council was sent to East Cambs District Council.

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The letter reminds planning officers that the core strategy for Soham says “retail opportunities should be focused in the town centre first, but as a second choice should be accommodated on land immediately adjoining the eastern boundary of the town centre”.

That strategy says only another 5,920sq ft of convenience retail floor space is needed, in or adjacent to the eastern boundary of the town centre. The council’s letter says: “It is recognised that public consultation identified a need for convenience shopping facilities in the north of the town.”

But is says the Soham Masterplan Vision said such facilities would be “a small local convenience store as opposed to a supermarket”.