These are the 8 councillors who voted in favour of an application by Tesco to make alterations to The Emperor on Norwich Road, alterations that will allow Britain’s largest retailer to open yet another Tesco Express store in the town.
Five Labour and three Tory councillors voted in favour of the application, with only one councillor, Lib Dem Cathy French, voting against. The other Labour members of the committee sat on their hands, and the Chairman failed to ask if there were any abstentions.
The councillors who voted for were Peter Gardiner, Richard Kirby, Adam Leeder, John LeGrys, Barry Studd, David Goldsmith, Judy Terry and Mary Young.
At a packed meeting of the planning committee, held in the Orwell Room at Grafton House, councillors heard from representatives of Tesco, who insisted that they were aware of the strength of local feeling, but that the store would also create a valuable community resource, claiming it would create 20 jobs.
They also heard speeches against from councillor Andrew Cann and from councillor Carole Jones, two of the three ward councillors. Both raised significant concerns about the traffic likely to be generated by the proposed store, with Cllr Cann questioning the traffic count performed by computer and suggesting it was likely to be out by a fact of at eight. Concerns were also raised about deliveries, since the Tesco Express on the corner of Civic Drive and Norwich Road was regularly serviced by HGVs.
Whilst Tesco does not need planning permission to turn the pub into a store, they admitted that the alterations were the only way the store would be viable, so without them the project would have stalled. Local residents, many of whom actually use the pub, were hoping for that outcome.
Councillor Judy Terry spoke in favour of the application, insisting that people need to change their mindsets when it comes to this sort of application. She questioned the viability of the pub, suggesting the fact that another pub, serving a different type of clientele almost a mile away, was busy all the time was evidence that The Emperor was not needed by the community.
Campaigners were encouraged in recent weeks as the Borough Council acknowledged the pub was a community asset under the Localism Act. This gives them a Community Right to Buy, but with the planning permission granted today it looks like their dream, of a community owned and run pub for the benefit of the community, is dead.
It seemed to some in the audience that the biggest factor in many councillors decision was the reminder by a planning officer that the last time the refused one of these applications, on his advice that time, it ended up costing the council £60,000 in a costs award against it. This factor was mentioned by a number of councillors.
If that really is the case, it shows a remarkable streak of pure cowardice on the part of the councillors. The issues raised with the application were solid planning grounds, and could now end up being the basis of enforcement action against Tesco if they breach strict conditions laid down. Yet fighting the enforcement action may end up costing the threadbare planning team more money than fighting the original application would have done.
Filed under: Cock Ups, Ipswich Borough Council, Planning Tagged: | Adam Leeder, Andrew Cann, Barry Studd, Carole Jones, David Goldsmith, John LeGrys, Judy Terry, Mary Young, Peter Gardiner, Richard Kirby, Tesco, The Emperor PH