As Soham basks in supermarket victory focus now on nearby Newmarket where FOUR supermarket plans set for early decisions


TESCO - Credit: PA

IT may have been a new supermarket for Soham that captured yesterday’s headlines but today the focus is on nearby Newmarket where no less than FOUR supermarket applications are with planners.

Next Wednesday is D-Day when Forest Heath councillors will be recommended to approve a new Morrisons store and a bigger Tesco supermarket for Newmarket.

Morrisons would be built in Exning Road whilst a replacement Tesco is recommended for approval on its existing Fordham Road site.

It means thumbs down for Sainsbury’s and their proposals for George Lambton Playing Fields – that would have included a five-screen Odeon cinema- and Asda who wanted to build on land backing onto Rowley Drive.

Officers have recommended the Morrisons and Tesco applications are approved but that the Sainsbury’s and Asda applications are turned down.

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A report to the committee said: “On the basis that Asda, which is the preferred site in retail terms, is recommended for refusal on heritage and horseracing policy grounds, Morrisons is considered to be the sequentially preferable site out of the other three proposals.”

It went on to say a Morrisons store would have the second lowest individual impact on the town centre, the lowest percentage of comparison goods floor space and the next best potential, after Asda, to create linked trips to the town centre.

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A report on the Tesco application said there was a “clear and present” need for at least one new food store in Newmarket based on the council’s evidence-based retail studies, and therefore an enlarged Tesco has also been recommended for approval.

A Morrisons spokesman said: “We’re pleased to have taken a positive step towards bringing a Morrisons store to Newmarket. “We remain committed to the area and look forward to the next stage of the process.”

Simon Petar, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager, said, on behalf of Tesco and its development partner Oaks Business Park Ltd: “This is excellent news which takes us a step closer to delivering an outstanding new shopping choice for Newmarket and with it, the creation of 200 jobs aimed at local people.

“The fact that officers believe our plans should go ahead is a real boost to our many loyal customers and staff. Ultimately, it will be the development control committee that makes the final decision and we look forward to their deliberations next Wednesday.”

Mr Petar also confirmed that if planning permission is granted, Newmarket stands to gain from a package of related highways and transport improvements and community benefits valued at more than £1 million.

A report on the Sainsbury’s application said officers remained concerned “that the critical mass of development on this site would be likely to significantly harm the vitality and viability of the town centre...”

But Sainsbury’s argues the scheme would bring many benefits, including the provision of a cinema and additional housing.

Officers felt the Asda application, which has been submitted by the Unex Group, would be contrary to heritage and horseracing policies.

Bill Gredley, chairman of the Unex Group, has previously disputed the proposal would contravene horseracing policies.

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