DIY store plans deferred
COUNCILLORS insisted this week that they were not against Focus DIY coming to Ely, after public opinion was revealed to be largely in favour of the development. On Wednesday, plans to build a new DIY store on the G&J Peck site at Lisle Lane were not refu
COUNCILLORS insisted this week that they were not against Focus DIY coming to Ely, after public opinion was revealed to be largely in favour of the development.
On Wednesday, plans to build a new DIY store on the G&J Peck site at Lisle Lane were not refused outright, as recommended by planning officers, but were deferred until the impact on the conservation area and traffic management is assessed.
At Ely market on Saturday, 923 people signed a petition in favour of Focus DIY coming to Lisle Lane.
Simon Hoare, of Location 3 Properties told councillors at a meeting on Wednesday: "I'm confused, for a few reasons. Last year, under deferred powers, they [officers] refused a different application for Angel Drove, saying it was too far away from the city centre. Our site is edge of centre. All proposed retail development is now being directed towards Angel Drove, five months later.
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"We find it incomprehensible that the situation should have changed when there have been no changes to PPS6 [the government's legal document on planning for town centres]," he added.
Mr Hoare claimed 80 per cent of people were leaving the city to use DIY stores in Newmarket and Cambridge. "We want to encourage more people to stay in the city centre and shop."
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However, Cllr Mike Rouse, who is leading the Ely Master Plan, which maps out a country park behind the G&J Peck site, said: "The Ely masterplan has only just gone out to consultation and this area is preferred for residential. The greatest impact is on the country park.
"Like most people here, I'm not against large box retail but I do want it in the right place. That's why we've gone out to consultation on these issues to try and indicate the right place. My main concerns are about the traffic impact on Broad Street and some of the medieval streets that define Ely."
However, Councillor Rouse was told by Liberal Democrat Jeremy Friend-Smith "Before the site can be used for residential, the sewage works would have to move. How long are you going to put things off to wait for something that may or may not happen."
Planners had insisted that other sites on Lisle Lane were available and viable which was rejected with snorts of derision from Location 3 Properties.
Committee chairman Philip Reed told the Ely Standard after the meeting: "The Master Plan is a long-term plan, and the planning committee have to decide how much weight to give it, but it does not override the local development framework."
As the vote was passed 11-5 in favour of deferral, a Location 3 properties consultant let out a relieved "Yes!"
Plans will come back to committee after design changes, comments from the Highways Agency and English Heritage have been received.