Councillors Defer ASDA Application
Published:25 Oct 2010
Asda’s plans for a supermarket on the former Cintel site in Ware were deferred by district councillors when the Development Control Committee met on Wednesday 20th October.
The meeting in the Council Chambers in Wallfields, Hertford, saw opposing representations from Chris Sanders of the No Asda in Ware Campaign and a spokesperson for Asda, supporting the application.
Speakers were allowed 3 minutes to present their points.
The Asda application was approved by the Committee pending a retail assessment by the Case Officers, finalisation of the planning requirements and a referral to the Secretary of State.
During the meeting, Councillors expressed their concern that the planning process wasn't being followed correctly. The key argument to the application was whether there was a sequential, preferential site to the Cintel Site.
Under National Planning Guidance PPS4, if a closer, viable site is available closer to the town centre, now or in the near future, then this site takes precedence and should be developed in favour of alternative sites.
The Case Officers concluded that the Crane Mead site, suggested by Waitrose, satisfied these requirements. On this basis, they recommended refusal of the Asda application.
Current planning legislation protects town centres from the development of big out of town supermarkets, which were the favoured option in the 80-90’s and irreparably damaged many town centres.
The first point of the application was put to the vote, with 7 councillors, Cllrs Alan Warman, Rosemary Cheswright, Nigel Coping, David Andrews, Jeanette Taylor, Mione Goldspink and Duncan Peak supporting the Case Officers recommendation of refusal on the grounds of sequential approach.
The remaining 7 councillors voted against the Case Officers recommendations. This left the vote tied, requiring Chairman, William Ashby, to use his casting vote. He voted against the Planning Officers recommendations, siding with the Ware Town Council’s vote in support of the Asda application.
However, critics of William Ashby’s decision to base his vote on Ware Town Council’s views point out that the Council did not know about the Waitrose application at the time they considered the Asda application. Therefore they were not dealing with the same set of facts as planning officers and the committee.
In objecting, Jeanette Taylor pointed to traffic issues and the negative impact the store would have on local retailers.
In supporting the application, Cllrs Bull and Gilbert didn’t believe that the store would have an impact on traffic nor would it have an effect on retailers in the town as long as their business models were right. Cllr Alexander was happy with the consultation and told the room that “residents will cope” with the store.
The second vote, almost 2 hours after the start of the debate, was on traffic and the impact the store would have on the town. This was defeated 8 votes to 6.
Finally, after advice from the Case Officers it was decided to recommend acceptance of the application with the proviso that the Retail Impact Assessment doesn’t indicate any negative effect on town centre trade. The matter will then be referred to the Secretary Of State for a final decision.
In the meantime, Asda will be working with EHDC and its’ retail consultants Chase and Partners to understand how the store will impact the town.
Residents are encouraged to watch the whole EHDC Development Committee meeting to see the planning process in action.
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