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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea