Green light for £55million development that could bring extra 835 jobs to Ely

Artists impressions of the new Angel Drove development of shops and offices.

Artists impressions of the new Angel Drove development of shops and offices. - Credit: Archant

Councillors were told Healey Investments “are straining at the leash” to begin phase one of a £55 million office and retail development in the city that could create up to 835 jobs,

The figures were provided to East Cambs Council planning committee after they voted to approve Angel Drove retail park and with it the likelihood of Lidl becoming the anchor store and Wickes and B&M providing added value.

Agent Chris Evans said the scheme would not be cheap to bring toward and said the £55m included £18 million in phase one, £30 million in phase two and £7 million in infrastructure;

Included will be a new roundabout on Angel Drove and parking for up to 350 cars for the three stores.

There will also be 50,000 square feet of office space built at the same time, divided into three units.

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The 27 acre site is mainly open fields at the moment with the Cambridge to Ely railway forming the eastern border and Angel Drove to the west; the new bypass is to the south.

Mr Evans said there had a lot of hard work undertaken to address issues, especially retail impact and highways.

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But he warned – and councillors agreed – it could not go ahead if the applicant had to pay £850,000 on top of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions as suggested by the county council

He said there were prepared to honour the original contribution requested, but could not agree to contributing £856,666 towards the improvement of the off-site A10/A142/Angel Drove roundabout.

Councillors heard that while the applicant was prepared to honour the original contribution of £200,000 for the larger scheme, in order to bring forward development on this site it was considered that due to viability issues and the scale of the proposal, on this occasion a contribution was not being sought.

Councillor Mike Rouse said this site had been talked about for around 10 years. He had always seen it as being complementary to the city centre and the planning department had worked hard to bring it forward.

He also found it very frustrating that the county council had long known about the problems at the roundabout; asking for a contribution of £856,666 would affect the viability of the development.

Councillor Beckett agreed, adding that he believed the county council was putting hurdles

Officers said Ely City Centre had one of the lowest vacancy levels of retail units in the UK and this was widely regarded as a positive indicator of a centre’s health, attraction, and performance.

In terms of the impact on the existing out-of-centre foodstores, the convenience turnover was drawn principally from Tesco and Aldi.

“It was considered that the forecast impacts would not result in the closure of these stores,” said their report.

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