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Scotforth superstore: new plan for March Public Inquiry

Chris Satori
New layout masterplan for the amended superstore proposalCommercial Estates Projects (CEP), who in 2011 were refused planning permission for a giant supermarket, petrol station and hotel / restaurant complex on a greenfield site in Scotforth, adjacent to the site where Booths already have planning permission to build a new supermarket, have told Virtual Lancaster that they will be offering an amended application to the Public Inquiry at their appeal hearing, which is due to resume in March 2012.
See our previous story 'Will proposed superstore traffic appeal to city planners?'

Steve McBurney from Commercial Estates Projects (CEP) commented: “The main parties agreed to adjourn the public inquiry into the CEP planning appeal for a new supermarket at Scotforth Road on 1 December 2011.

“The adjournment was required to allow CEP time to prepare and submit additional information as a result of new points raised during the inquiry itself. The inquiry will recommence on 21 March 2012.

“The additional information includes revised plans. The hotel and associated pub/restaurant has been removed from the proposal in order to satisfy Lancaster City Council that, should the Council require Whinney Carr to come forward for development at some point in the future, a link road through the CEP site can be achieved to the Council’s standards.

”The revised proposal will create up to 400 jobs including approximately 65 construction jobs.”

The application and its many associated documents can be viewed on on the city council planning website (Planning Dept ref: 11/00022/REF.
Click here to see a larger version of the proposed Masterplan 

The field south of the proposed superstore access road is reserved for its proposed future new petrol filling station (PFS).

Cynics suggest that the discarded elements of the application - the hotel and restaurant - were never key elements of the application, but were simply included at the initial stages as bargaining chips to be sacrificed to make the final application, for a superstore and petrol station appear more reasonable. While the identity of the superstore operators remains a commercial secret, it is widely believed to be Tesco, who are known to be well versed in overcoming objections to their developments, often to the detriment of local businesses and city centres.

However, strong objections to the plan were aimed squarely, not at its newly discarded elements, but at the proposed superstore itself, with Booths, Mitchells and Lancaster University having submitted evidence to demonstrate how it would place their own proposed developments in jeopardy, namely, the new Booths Scotforth supermarket, the City centre canal corridor (north) regeneration, and the University's Bailrigg science park. The future of the city centre as a retail destination for local shoppers would also be affected by the reduced number of 'side-errands' if more people made their main regular shopping journey outside of walking distance from city centre shops. It would also reduce the desirability of the Market Building to prospective new retail tenants. A second major city centre food store has previously been the preferred option.

The city council also wished to reserve part of the land for future use in the event of greenbelt land at Whinney Carr being released for residential development. The land reserved would form part of the route for a new road linking any new estate at Whinney Carr to the A6 via a bridge over the railway. CEP's new plans have been amended to allow for this via a roundabout on their access road.

But increased traffic on the A6 is also a major drawback to the plan.  It's not yet clear how they will prevent the tail-backs that will build up each way behind the extra traffic lights on the A6, currently included in the proposals to allow southbound traffic to turn right off the single-lane carriageway A6 into the superstore site.

Lancaster City Council has informed Virtual-Lancaster:
"To date it has cost the council £115,000 (ex VAT) to participate in the public inquiry. The council will continue to be a main party in the inquiry when it re-opens.  The cost of any further participation is not known at this time."