DoE superstore `breaks green rule'

A Department of the Environment plan to develop an edge-of-town superstore with parking for more than 300 in Cambridgeshire has outraged some residents and startled environmentalists.

Campaigners say the move goes completely against the spirit of new, greener government planning policies.

The DoE is acting as a superstore developer because its property holdings arm is disposing of surplus crop-trialling farmland owned by the Ministry of Agriculture on the edge of Trumpington, Cambridge. A superstore is the most lucrative potential use of the site. The DoE is on the verge of being granted planning permission by a reluctant Cambridge City Council, the planning authority.

John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, could still decide to ``call in'' the development and order a public inquiry. But if, as seems almost certain, planning permission goes ahead, the land will be sold to a supermarket chain and the 3,906 square metre structure built. He has repeatedly condemned such ``sheds on the bypasses'' on the grounds that they can damage the vitality of town centres and lead to extra and longer car journeys.

The superstore site lies less than half a mile from Cambridge's green belt, immediately next to parkland surrounding Anstey Hall, a Grade 1 listed Queen Anne mansion.

Roger Higman, Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner, said the development contradicted the spirit of Department of Transport and DoE planning guidance issued less than a year ago and hailed as a radical change in direction at the time.

This guidance, known as PPG 13, calls on developers and councils to discourage new buildings which increase reliance on the private car and traffic, and plan in a way which encourages people to walk, bicycle or use public transport.

Mr Higman said: ``If the Government is trying to be serious about this guidance then it can't be seen to bending the rules like any property developer.

``I can't believe that huge numbers of shoppers are going to arrive by bicycle, even in Cambridge. If you must build on this land then there should be houses, or industry which can't be in the city centre because it requires lots of lorry movements.''

The DoE said there would be more than 100 bicycle parking spaces and that, being just off a main road, the site would almost certainly have a bus service.

It argues that the development is a supermarket. Superstores start at 4,000 square metres - what the DoE plans for Trumpington is less. It also says this is not an out-of-town development. Although it will go on open land on the outskirts of Trumpington, a Cambridge suburb, in planning terms it is within the urban fabric.

Cambridge City Council initially refused the planning application, but the DoE's advisers then altered the superstore's proposed road connections, positioning and landscaping to meet the council's objections.

The council has now decided it has no choice but to pass the application. Its own planning blueprint for the area does not exclude development. If it had refused, DoE Property Holdings would almost certainly have appealed to Mr Gummer, who could order a public inquiry and appoint an independent planning inspector.

The city council judged not only that it would lose, but that the inspector might find Cambridge's refusal to grant permission unjustifiable and order it to pay the DoE's heavy legal costs.

``It was an incredibly difficult decision to make,'' said Beth Morgan, the Labour chair of Cambridge's environment committee.

"The vast majority of shoppers will go to the site by car, but if it wasn't there they might well drive even further to more distant superstores. At the moment the south side of Cambridge is not well served by them.''

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power