SOHAM DEBATE: Why we say yes to a supermarket but not this one that’s proposed for our towm

SOHAM Traders Association, formally known as the Soham Town Team, has members from both High Street and wider Soham who operate businesses in this area. Below they outline their opposition to a massive superstore proposed for their town.

We are writing to express our views on the proposed out-of-town supermarket for Soham.

Over recent months, some supporters of the proposed supermarket have expressed their views via local newspapers, meetings and social media.

Every member of the association supports the need for a supermarket in Soham. It is our belief, and in-line with the recently compiled masterplan, that a supermarket of proportionate size, as close to the town centre as possible, would bring renewed vibrancy and prosperity to our town centre.

Much time, effort and public money was spent on the Soham Vision to provide a blueprint for the town.

There was ample opportunity for all stakeholders, including members of the public, to have their say in the formation of the masterplan which was entitled “Reshaping Soham – a 21st Century Cambridgeshire Market Town” and focused on sustainable growth.

Indeed many of the councillors who attended the recent public meeting were involved in this process and signed off the document.

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Whilst the masterplan does mention the need and desire for a supermarket, it was emphasised that such a development should be proportionately sized and located as close to the town centre as possible.

This view is in line with the Government’s recently released National Planning Policy Framework and the current East Cambs Core Strategy.

The masterplan for Soham took in excess of a year to compile, at a cost of about �50,000, with the intention of it being viable until 2025 and as a discussion document until 2040.

It was with disappointment that the association noted, in a recent letter to this newspaper, the reference to the alleged “myth perpetuated by a few” that such a development would destroy Soham High Street.

The traders’ concern for the devastating impact can be readily evidenced in nearby Littleport and there is sadly ample evidence nationally of similar destruction of the nation’s High Streets which was the subject of the recent Government-commissioned Mary Portas review.

Some of the supporters could be considered as being dismissive of our High Street which has supported the town over many generations and is now in need of nurturing and careful, well-thought planning decisions.

The masterplan provides a carefully considered blueprint and looks at the sustainable future growth of Soham as a whole rather than just the potential development of one supermarket and it is for this reason that the association continues to support the masterplan.

We would urge both councillors and members of the public to revisit this well researched document which was prepared after extensive and unbiased consultation.


Via e-mail