A report and update from Tim Mars.
Looks like it’s game set and match for ASDA. On Tuesday 14 April 2015, Stroud District Council’s Development Control Committee meets to reconsider the three out-of-town superstore applications and the in-town supermarket possibility. They are strongly recommended to give ASDA—and only ASDA—the thumbs-up.
At last September’s meeting, planning officer Darryl Rogers’s recommendation was that ASDA on the Daniels Industrial Estate at Lightpill should be approved and the other two applications—for Brunsdons Yard at Ryeford and the Avocet Industrial Estate at Dudbridge—should be refused. That meeting decided to postpone the decision for six months to give Setminds a chance to work up their embryonic proposals for the Market Tavern / Cornhill site and to put in a planning application.
So Tuesday is the rematch. And the officer’s recommendation is… as before, that ASDA should be approved and the other two out-of-town applications should be refused.
What about the Market Tavern / Cornhill site, the one that caused the delay in the first place? Nothing doing, according to Darryl Rogers. Still embryonic, no finalised scheme or planning application submitted, no evidence of a contractually committed operator for any element. Setminds still has no dog in the fight.
This is a link to the Development Control Committee agenda and reports: http://goo.gl/nq5lP7
Darryl Rogers also includes a detailed update and assessment of the Market Tavern / Cornhill site, for which there is as yet still no planning application:
‘At this stage it is important to note that this is not a formal proposal nor is it part of any confirmed pre-application discussion between the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and the applicant. At the time of writing (31/3/15) no planning application in any form has been submitted to the LPA and the LPA are not aware of any timetable for any potential submission. This matter is included on the schedule solely to enable Members to make an informed decision with regard to the relevant weight to be given to relevant existing and potential material considerations and then to factor such duly weighed considerations into the overall decision making process.’
He sums up the merits and deficits of the ‘embryonic’ Market Tavern / Cornhill scheme thus:
• Town centre location.
• No requirement for a sequential test.
• Could increase footfall and linked trips to the centre.
• Could provide a qualitative retail addition to the town centre.
• Re-use of redundant building
• Appears somewhat embryonic in nature
• No finalised scheme or planning application submitted
• Is not a suitably sequentially preferable site to the current proposals.
• Difficult to class as existing, committed and planned investment.
• No firm evidence provided to identify a contractually confirmed operator of any element.
• Would result in the potential loss of a food operator in the town centre in the short term with no confirmed long term replacement.
• Potential short term and long term impact on the operation and retention of the existing farmers market with resultant significant change to the retail offer provided by Stroud Town Centre and the inter-relationship of this offer to the overall viability and vitality of the centre.
Three sketch schemes for the site—the triangle of land between Union Street and Cornhill, bookended by the Market Tavern to the south, Swan Lane to the north, with the Cornhill market place and various retail units in between—have been drawn up by Roberts Limbrick Architects. The thumbnail images below show each design – click to enlarge each in a new window.
Each shows slight variations on the disposition of the three retail elements across the site, but all three scenarios propose a car park at first floor level on the roof of the new foodstore ‘also to be used for farmers market occasionally’. What is proposed would effectively be an extension of the current Iceland service yard and loading bay—a full storey above the existing level of the Cornhill market place. This does not sound remotely like the ‘town square’ or ‘piazza’ that Setminds’ agent Andrew Watton was talking about.
As it will be a full storey above Union Street and the existing Cornhill market place, it would presumably have to be accessed by ramps and stairs—unless the only access is to be from the existing vehicular entrance to the Iceland service yard from Cornhill.
This is hardly an improvement on the existing arrangements for the Cornhill market.
• It is certainly not a town square or piazza, it’s a car park.
• It does not open directly off Union Street so it cuts the market off from the surrounding streets into which it currently spills
• It moves the market further away from Union Street and places it on a higher level, even less accessible than the current (unsatisfactory) enclosed design of Cornhill market place.
It is important to remember that these are sketch schemes and tentative thoughts and that no actual planning application has been submitted.
That said, what is proposed seems nothing short of catastrophic.
For the time being, though, the Cornhill / Market Tavern scheme is a chimæra, a pipe dream, pie-in-the-sky, and the only game in town, it seems, is ASDA.