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Supermarket plans thrown out

May 19, 2006 8:06 AM
Protestors' poster

Poster displayed in the Upper High Street by supermarket protestors

Following a lengthy debate, punctuated by interjections from a packed public gallery, Epsom & Ewell's planning committee have voted to reject the controversial proposal for a large supermarket in the Upper High Street on a majority decision. As for all planning applications, this proposal had to be determined purely on planning grounds, despite immense public interest and pressure. Council planning officers had recommended approval, but most members felt that the size of the planned store would create more additional traffic than that part of the town could cope with.

Town ward councillor Colin Taylor, who formally proposed the refusal, said afterwards "There was general agreement that Epsom needs a new food store. The former Allams and Iceland sites in the Upper High Street are in need of redevelopment and seem to provide the best location currently available for a new food store. The issue was the size, which seemed to owe more to making it commercially attractive to one of the larger national chains than to meeting local needs. The final design, which benefited from several changes called for by our planning officers, had many good features. However there was also concern about the potential for up to half of the proposed store's capacity to be devoted to items other than food supplies."

He added "I did not know when I arrived for the meeting what the outcome would be, but having carefully studied the applicants submission I felt there were certain aspects of it that needed to be brought to the attention of committee members before they made their decision. As the meeting progressed it rapidly became clear that other members had similar concerns, but it was still quite a relief when the vote was taken."