Councillors Refuse Planning Permission For DIY Stores in Ely

PUBLISHED: 11:12 05 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:32 04 May 2010

DIY superstores will not be coming to Ely in the near future, as councillors voted to deny Focus DIY or any its competitors the chance to move to premises on Lisle Lane. Ignoring a 1,060-signatory petition drummed up by Focus DIY s agents, councillors de

DIY superstores will not be coming to Ely in the near future, as councillors voted to deny Focus DIY or any its competitors the chance to move to premises on Lisle Lane.

Ignoring a 1,060-signatory petition drummed up by Focus DIY's agents, councillors decided that neither G&J Peck, nor Ely Chemical Company sites were close enough to the town centre to warrant granting planning permission today (Wednesday).

Legal guidelines state that any retail development should not take trade away from the town centre and some councillors were concerned that shoppers would visit Lisle Lane by car, block up Broad Street, and fail to make use of the planned footpath through the Vineyards to town centre stores.

As the housing market crumbles, businesses are looking to cash in on the vast sums of money offered by retail developers. John Fleet, chairman of G&J Peck Ltd, told councillors his agricultural machinery company, which has a £20million turnover and has traded in Ely for 162 years, would not be able to afford to move to purpose-built premises at the Lancaster Way business park without selling to Focus.

Aldi was given permission to build on the opposite site of Lisle Lane in August after the company agreed to build a footpath linking Lisle Lane and the Vineyards to the town centre.

"As I have said before, I am not against development, I am not against development in Ely, or the concept of a DIY store in Ely, but I am against this particular development. I don't think this is the right site," said Cllr James Palmer at the council's planning committee, held on Wednesday.

But Neil Ridley, representing the developer with links to Ely Chemical Company, said a DIY store would "provide the critical mass of retail in Ely and stop people driving elsewhere - out of the city - to shop."

Ely Chemical Company will move to Milton Keynes this month, leaving some employees redundant and another vacant plot of land on Lisle Lane.

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