11:43 Friday 08 November 2013

Leisure and retail development Octagon Park proposed in Ely set for approval by councillors


A huge leisure and retail park on the outskirts of Ely with a multi-million pound price tag is set to be given the go ahead by councillors at East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC).

Plans submitted by Healy Investments Ltd earlier this year have been approved in principle by the planning committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council.

The development, named Octagon Park, will see a new Tesco superstore, a petrol station, space for a DIY store and a restaurant being built on land south east of Cambridgeshire Businesses Park at Angel Drove. Permission will also be given for six retail units, a hotel, pub and offices on the site.

Developers hope that the proposed retail park will not take business out of the city centre, but would add to shoppers in the area who would currently leave the town to do their shopping.

On their website, Healy Investments said: “The new proposals will also serve to free up the ‘Station Gateway’ sit currently occupied by the existing Tesco store.

“We estimate that our proposals will create over 300 jobs. Many of the tenants we are in discussions with will also provide training and apprenticeships for employees.”

At the time, many people wrote in support of the proposed site, which they thought would help encourage tourism in the city, create jobs, stimulate the economy and provide a wider retail choice,

E J Gifford said: “Octagon Park will provide a boost to the city, hopefully creating further employment and amenities.”

B. Mills added: “The sooner Ely modernises, the better. Social and retail improvements are urgently needed in Ely.”

However, many were not as supportive about the new proposals.

Lorraine Brown, conservation officer, said: “The design of the two large structures, superstore and non-food retail unit, is disappointing as it would seem that no regard has been given to the context of the site, in relation to its proximity to the Cathedral city.

“The design put forward is a standard design that features in retail parks across the country and is of little architectural merit.”

English Heritage also submitted strong concerns over the proposal, saying it would “further exacerbate the harm to the setting of Ely Cathedral. A number of the uses will also be in direct competition with retail outlets in the city centre and may jeopardise the viability of parts of the historic retail core”.

The application is set to be approved subject to conditions.

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