Manea developers behind proposed Soham supermarket blame Cambridgeshire County Council for nearby “terrible” school plans

DEVELOPERS behind plans to bring a new supermarket to Soham say they warned Cambridgeshire County Council not to build a new school on a site just yards from their development.

At a public meeting in Soham last night, Liz Dent, of Harrier Developments, said they thought it was a “terrible” location for a new school and said they had urged the council not to build it there.

She said: “We put our application in quite a while before the school, we had done a lot of prior consultation and then the county council come and put plans for the school in, we think it is a terrible place for a school.

“The county council put the school there because they own the land. It got rushed through, we have never seen an application completed so quickly. We think it is a disgrace.”

Concerns about the location of the school relative to the supermarket were also reflected by a group of parents at the meeting, who said the increase in traffic would be an accident waiting to happen.

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Max Charlesworth said: “I hope my children have a good education and I hope they are safe but what is more important, a supermarket that will take its money to London or our children’s safety?”

Another parent added: “This is something overwhelming for the town when what it needs is something safe. Putting a supermarket and a petrol station in this area is asking for a death.”

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The meeting, which brought more than 150 people to Soham Town Rangers football ground, was billed by organiser Wendy Lunn as an opportunity for people to have their say on the supermarket and a clear majority backed the plans.

Soham councillor Colin Fordham called for a show of hands among the audience to see who backed the plans, with a large majority showing their support.

Soham resident Peter Gorham said: “There are not enough facilities in the town, I can’t go into the town and buy a pair of socks. We are saying the store will be 20,000sq ft, I’m a little but disappointed, I think we need something bigger!”

Several residents who attended said they believed that the town’s High Street was dead and that the supermarket would save residents from having to go elsewhere.

One said: “Everything is going down the pan in Soham, we need to have a supermarket because something has to change here.”

Soham councillor Tony Parramint, said: “We need to keep moving in Soham, we have got to do something. Let’s work together to get Soham what it needs.”

Though Ms Dent refused to be drawn on which supermarkets had been earmarked for the site, she revealed that “two out of the big four retailers” had shown an interest, though Tesco had “not show a lot of interest”.

She added that Harrier hoped to have the plans considered by the council in September but said there was no guarantee.

A recent retail assessement commissioned by East Cambs Council has been prepared but not released. The council says it has been sent to Harrier for questions to be answered.

Harrier successfully found the site at Chatteris for a new Tesco store, is engaged in a batle with Sainsbury for a new Tesco store in Whittlesey, and unsuccessfully tried to develop land in Wisbech for a superstore.

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