Supermarket boss gets offers from two ‘Big Four’ operators but both insist council reject Harrier out of town plans

Outline of proposed extension for Budgens store, Soham:

Outline of proposed extension for Budgens store, Soham: - Credit: Archant

SUPERMARKET boss Jonathan James has received offers for his Soham store from two of the big four operators…but there is a condition.

Taken from the developers plans submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council, for the proposed

Taken from the developers plans submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council, for the proposed superstore at Soham. - Credit: Archant

SUPERMARKET boss Jonathan James has received offers for his Soham store from two of the big four operators…but there is a condition.

Jonathan James (owner of James Graven/Budgens in Soham).

Jonathan James (owner of James Graven/Budgens in Soham). - Credit: Archant

“The offers are conditional upon East Cambs Council rejecting Harrier Developments proposed out of town supermarket,” said Mr James.

He said offers for his 9,000 square feet store in Soham High Street- trading as Budgens- had been received and both buyers had agreed to go ahead with a previously approved 6,000 square feet extension.

They would invest up to £1.5million developing the store and would create extra jobs.


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It could mean Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda or Morrison’s get a key foothold in the town centre.

“I can’t sit on national bodies and sit back and watch what happens to high streets across the country if I don’t do something about my own,” said Mr James.

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By agreeing to sell to a major operator he believes it will be the best of both worlds for Soham- townsfolk get a major retailer whilst other traders get a shot in the arm.

“If the current scheme for an out of town store is approved there are nearly 50 business and 200 jobs in Soham High Street that would be put at risk,” said Mr James.

“I am Soham born and bred, Soham through and through and cannot allow that to happen.”

He has met planners at East Cambs District Council to show them confidential documents showing both offers.

Mr James said the proposals by Harrier Developments for an out of town store “are against local and national planning policy, as well as being contrary to the Soham Masterplan and the Portas Review.”

He said East Cambs’ own independent experts had criticised the Harrier plans – due to be debated in a fortnight- for providing “inconsistent inaccurate data and an incomplete assessment”.

Mr James said: “Harrier’s proposals will kill Soham town centre stone dead. Shoppers won’t come to the town centre anymore to buy their groceries, so they won’t go to any of the high street shops.”

Impact studies by his own team had shown 85 per cent of people using his store went onto shop elsewhere in town. If an out of town centre was allowed it could wipe out up to half his trade and destroy its viability.

“These plans I have put forward offer real hope for the high street- with an anchor store for Soham where it should be and that’s in the High Street,” he said.

Mr James and his wife Rebecca (nee Graven) run the family owned James Graven business. They bought the Soham Budgens in 2003.

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