DIY Stores Will Not Be Coming To Ely Despite Petition

PUBLISHED: 10:54 10 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 the G&J Peck and Ely Chemical Company sites were unsuitable for that type of retail development at a meeting on 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 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."

After the meeting, Location 3 Properties who represent Focus, slammed the council for their "indifferent and unhelpful stance".

"At a time of increasing economic uncertainty, it is staggering that officers and councillors alike can send out such a negative message to prospective investors in the city," said Alan Gibbons, development director for Location 3. "In whose best interests are these decisions being made?"

Mr Gibbons also attacked the Ely Masterplan, saying "As long as the shadow of the Masterplan [now suspended] hangs over Ely, residents can continue to expect to see similar refusals of legitimate development proposals.

The developer has been frustrated by three years of fruitless talks with the council in an effort to bring what it claims are much-needed jobs and retail services to the city.

As the housing market crumbles, Ely-based 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 150 years, would not be able to afford to move to purpose-built premises at the expanding Lancaster Way business park without selling to Focus.

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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