- By Claire Milne, of the No to Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign
“Since Tesco announced its intention to open on Cheltenham Road in February, 2010, local residents have been insisting that the council carries out an impact assessment around deliveries to the store.
“The new Tesco Metro receives over 40 deliveries a week on an extremely busy road, crossing a busy cycle path and bus stop and between two already congested crossroads and pedestrian crossings.
“It will be a miracle if no-one is seriously injured in this delivery process. Before the store even opened I was nearly knocked out by a delivery lorry to the store opening its door on me.
“Bristol City Council wrongly granted permission for Tesco to open in Stokes Croft because they failed to follow proper procedure.
“Planning officers wrongly informed the committee members, who make the final decision, that it would be illegal for them to carry out an impact assessment around deliveries. We provided clear evidence that Cambridge City Council had refused permission for the same planning applications on the grounds of the dangers posed by deliveries to the store.
“What’s more, the Government’s national planning inspectorate upheld this decision when Tesco appealed. Despite this clear evidence that it was in fact entirely legal to carry out such an impact assessment, planning officers continued to ignore us and insist to committee members that we were simply wrong.
However, almost a year later and just minutes before planning permission was granted, the Council’s solicitor finally admitted they had got it wrong and that deliveries were a legal consideration in this decision and so an impact assessment could in fact be carried out. Committee Members were clearly concerned about deliveries, but clearly saw it as too late in the day to call for an impact assessment at this final stage.
“Whilst Tesco can automatically appeal any planning decision, local residents must hire a solicitor to apply for permission to apply for a Judicial Review of the council’s decision.
“With much effort we managed to find a solicitor to represent us on a no-won-no-fee basis and painstakingly prepared the legal case to apply for permission to apply for Judicial Review.
“A couple of weeks ago we were notified by the courts that we had been refused permission to apply for a Judicial Review due to the ‘relatively minor impact’ of deliveries. This seems absurd.
“We are being refused permission to seek Judicial Review of the Council’s incorrect refusal to carry out an impact assessment because the courts are pre-empting the outcome of the very impact assessment that has not taken place.
“To appeal this refusal of permission by the courts we then had a couple of days to find a Barrister for our solicitor to instruct. By some miracle we managed this and last week found out that our Appeal will be heard at in court on June 15.
“I cannot begin to explain how much time, energy and effort it has required simply to try and get permission to appeal the council’s decision. This seems crazy when you consider Tesco can appeal simply by filling in a form. I am learning that our legal system is far from a level-playing field.”