Row Over Littleport Furniture Store Escalates

PUBLISHED: 09:11 19 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 04 May 2010

THE row over a controversial furniture outlet in Littleport has escalated this week with store owners accusing East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) of abandoning the town . Managers at The Home, a warehouse furniture outlet sited on the Saxon B

THE row over a controversial furniture outlet in Littleport has escalated this week with store owners accusing East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) of 'abandoning' the 'town'.

Managers at The Home, a warehouse furniture outlet sited on the Saxon Business Park, believe ECDC is neglecting Littleport in favour of Ely's prosperity but the council have hit back, calling the claims "absolute rubbish".

The row began back in July when ECDC issued its first-ever joint 'stop' and 'enforcement' notices on Jemma Bruen, the general manager of The Home, for an alleged breach of planning permission on the site.

The council said the owners did not apply for permission to use the site for retail and subsequently ordered them to cease trading. The owners have appealed the decision however, and the planning inspectorate is expected to make a ruling early next year.

In the meantime, owners of The Home have hit out at a report issued by the council explaining its decision to serve notice on the outlet.

They claim that the document, prepared by ECDC's Planning Department, states that the store is 'out of scale with the role and function of Littleport and at odds with the hierarchy of centres in the district.'

They claim that the document goes on to say, "Ely is clearly defined as the major town centre in the district," and is identified as "...the main focus for shopping development in East Cambridgeshire."

Jemma Bruen, General Manager of The Home, said: "ECDC doesn't feel that Littleport residents should have quality shopping on their doorstep because we are a second rate location and too rural. It's a scandal."

David Archer, executive director of Development Services at ECDC, hit back at the claims, however, saying: "It is absolute rubbish to suggest for one minute that the council does not value Littleport.

"We see it as being one of the most important market towns in the district which is why we are moving forward with its Masterplan to set out its future for the next 20 years.

"Instead of attempting to wage a publicity campaign against the council, the owners of The Home store should instead look at the reasons why the stop notice was served. This had nothing to do with not wanting to support Littleport and everything to do with the safety of the road users on the A10.

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