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Cllr slams planning system after being prevented from blocking Tesco plan
A SENIOR councillor has slammed the planning system after members were effectively prevented from rejecting plans for a new Tesco Express.
Cllr Ian Bates questioned why Wycombe District Council's Planning Committee existed after officers told members they had no grounds to refuse the proposals to convert the former Platts Garage in Wycombe.
Councillors said the store would cause chaos on the busy A40 London Road and the proposed nine car-parking spaces were inadequate.
Planning officers said the car-park arrangements fall in line with WDC’s Car Parking Standards from the authority's adopted Local Plan.
And added Buckinghamshire County Council had raised no objections, after its database which calculates traffic volumes predicted no significant increase in traffic movement.
To which Cllr Bates said: “It seems the Highways Authority’s evidence is unchallengeable and all of our objections are not significant.
“It seems planning applications are determined on formulas which begs the question, why does this committee even exist? Why do we bother?”
A number of traders – fearful of the affect the Tesco Express will have on their own businesses – listened to Wednesday’s debate.
Cllr Trevor Snaith, ward member for Ryemead, made an impassioned plea to members to find a way to reject and prevent the supermarket giants from “running riot on the Wycombe Marsh”.
Cllrs Alan Hill and Jean Teesdale also raised fears about parking and the impact Tesco would have on neighbouring convenience stores and takeaways.
BCC's prediction that only 12-18 new vehicle movements would visit Tesco every day - after subtracting the trips made to the site in its former guise as a car dealership - was ridiculed by Cllrs Ray Farmer, Alan Turner and Steve Lacey.
Cllr Lacey said: “Cars regularly backup along London Road in both directions past Hammersley Lane and the Cricket Club.
“It’s also a very busy junction, not just with the retail park, but also the other shops, the takeaways and there’s also the pedestrian crossing.
“This will create a nightmare, not just for the people that live around there but the whole town.
“I’ve worked in the transportation business for 40 years and BCC are talking out of their backsides. They should come down here to get a good idea [of the traffic] instead of pushing a pen sat behind a desk.”
But councillors, many with “heavy hearts”, ultimately voted nine votes to six in favour of the Tesco Express store on the advice of officers.