Everyone likes a BIGGIE at CBC Planning.
Good news. The agenda [pdf] for the 4 Feb meeting at the Town Hall includes:
B And Q Warehouse, Lightship Way, Colchester – new Sainsbury’s store.
It’s got to be SEXIER than Mr. Jones at No.48 applying for new double glazing to be fitted.
You may be having a sense of déjà vu here.
Sainsbury’s first came sniffing around the muddy banks of the Colne with this application almost two years ago.
It seems that a lot of ‘delicate negotiations’ have been taking place between Mr Sainsbury and the CBC planners before this item can go to Committee.
The full ask is:
“Use of premises as a retail food store with external alterations; installation of a GOL facility, colleague area; two concessions and domestic area at ground level and a cafe at mezzanine level; the removal of the existing garden centre and builders’ yard, provision of cycle parking, recycling facilities and reconfiguration of the customer park park.”
RIP grow bags, hello groceries.
The apolitical recommendation is:
“Conditional Approval subject to signing of Section 106 Agreement.”
And we all know how apolitical the CBC Officers are – and the esteemed members of the Planning Committee when it comes to developments…
Speaking of which:
“Objections have been raised regarding the retail impact of the proposal on the Town and District Centres together with compliance with relevant planning policy.”
We wonder if Cllr Manning will be Chairing the Committee?
The ‘Colchester town centre is DYING’ argument has been done to… death.
We’ve yet to see any substantive evidence to either prove or disprove.
But isn’t CBC looking to nail down a flagship retailer to prop up the AWOL Vineyard Gate?
“The applicant appeared to concede in its assessments that a large food store could physically be accommodated on either the Vineyard Gate or Cowdray Centre sites.
Subsequently (12 June 2014), Indigo [consultant] submitted a report elaborating on those sites which argued that the Vineyard Gate site, based on the latest information, would not be delivered until 2019 which was after the period for delivery of Sainsbury’s at the B & Q site.”
2019 then for Vineyard Gate.
Meanwhile the Big Brother / Little Brother Sainsbury relationship is considered in the report:
“There is no evidence to suggest the Sainsbury’s store [Priory Walk] will be forced to close. The retention of the Priory Walk store could be secured by a Section 106 agreement for a five year period.”
How does that work?
As for the opposition?
“Tesco, represented by Martin Robeson, submitted an objection to the Sainsbury’s proposal on the basis that it would have a negative impact on the existing Greenstead Urban District Centre.”
Ha, bloody ha.
Now let’s consider the site itself.
Tucked away behind Lighthouse Way and the Greenstead roundabout, the existing B & Q is not exactly part of an integrated public transport structure.
Which kinda works if you are buying a brand new bathroom. You wouldn’t expect to carry that home on the No. 61.
But your weekly food shop?
“The Highway Authority has no objection on highway capacity and safety grounds since following protracted negotiations the submitted modelling is considered adequate to allow the nature and magnitude of these impacts to be quantified and consequently for relevant mitigation to be identified and agreed with the developer.”
Betcha those negotiations were *incredibly* protracted.
Sainsbury at the Hythe is set to become the largest student corner shop in Sunny Colch.
The report boasts that 450 new jobs will be created. Tellingly these will be a mixture of full and part-time.
We’d like to see a breakdown of these two figures.
Meanwhile the Environment Agency confirms that:
“The site is located within a flood risk zone.”
BOGOF on wellies.
As for access?
“The applicants have submitted a Framework Travel Plan which needs to be funded to ensure its success. It success also depends upon changes to the design and existing infrastructure to promote walking, cycling and public transport.
There is no evidence provided on how the Travel Plan will help manage car parking demand, especially as the number of car park spaces are at least 25% less than the adopted standard for retail.”
How about a new bridge – in what is already shaping up to be a part of town that likes to cross over the Colne at every available opportunity:
“The provision of a walking and cycling bridge to the east of the Colne Causeway links together the two banks of the development area where significant land use changes are occurring. A new bridge will also benefit the wider existing community by giving traffic free access from the Distillery Lane, Old Heath area.”
Betcha they call it the bloody Sainsbury Bridge.
The current footpath bridge that services students crossing the railway line just down the road is seen as… a bridge too far:
“The store will attract students as either customers or employees. However, the bridge across the railway line prohibits cycling. To provide real choice to travel this barrier to cycling should be removed.”
And who is going to pay for this?
“We believe that a financial contribution should be made by Sainsbury’s to support the delivery of the bridge to deliver sustainable transport and the wider objectives of the regeneration area.
A £4m contribution towards sustainable transport in Colchester is sought with emphasis on provision of infrastructure to support cyclists and pedestrians; Modification of the railway pedestrian bridge to make cycleable; Funding secured for air quality case study of particulates in East Colchester to assess impact of the store.”
Live well for less, etc.
We would normally conclude that the CBC Planning Committee will rubber stamp the Officer’s recommendations when it next meets at the Town Hall on 4 Feb.
But following the Tollgate trouble, anything is possible.
Once we find out who is Chair for the evening then we will have a better idea…