10:28 Thursday 22 May 2014

New fears over 'impact' retail park could have on Ely

Written byJORDAN DAY

East Cambridgeshire District Council's HQ. East Cambridgeshire District Council's HQ.

Developers are forging ahead with plans to build a new out-of-town retail park in Ely – despite fears about the impact it could have on the whole of East Cambridgeshire.

Cambridge Property Group submitted a screening opinion to develop around 10 hectares of land in Downham Road – the site currently occupied by the Ely Outdoor Sports Association – to the district council earlier this year.

The multi-million pound proposals involve building a new supermarket, petrol filling station, six retail warehouse units and a pub/restaurant.

Giles Hughes, head of planning at the council, fears the development would have a “significant impact” on not just Ely but the entire district, and wants an environmental impact assessment to be carried out.

However, the company has dismissed the concerns and submitted an application.

Mr Hughes said: “The proposal will result in the loss of 10 hectares of sports infrastructure from land which is the main location for sports provision in the area.

“Whilst a plan has been submitted indicating an alternative site, this has not been assessed in terms of suitability, deliverability, impact on the character of the area or accessibility.

“It is considered that the development would have a significant impact on the environment for residents of Ely and the surrounding district.”

Speaking to Ely News, a spokesman for Cambridge Property Group said: “We disagree that this development will have a significant impact on the surrounding area.

“The council has asked for an assessment, but we don’t have to do one and we won’t be doing one.

“This is not the scale of development which would normally be subject to such rigorous assessments.”

The firm says its proposals will tie in with Turnstone Ely Ltd’s intentions to build a new Cineworld and eight restaurants on land adjacent to theirs and that its plans will rival the Octagon Park proposals for Angel Drove and that Tesco could be persuaded to relocate to Downham Road instead.

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