08:27 Tuesday 23rd June 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DOTTY MCLEOD: It has been dubbed Supermarketgate. For a number of years we have been reporting on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire that the town of Whittlesey could get a new supermarket. Well, there was a battle, and then it was over, between a couple of the biggest players in the industry. Sainsburys seems to have come out on top. The planning application for the supermarket included an industrial estate, a new nature and leisure reserve to include Gildenburgh Water, and then that was all thrown into a muddle. There were reports that Sainsburys could pull out if final planning permission wasn’t granted within a certain time. Well yesterday that planning permission was granted by Fenland District Council. So is Whittlesey finally going to get its Sainsburys? Johnnie Dee is in Whittlesey for me this morning. Hi there Johnny.
JOHHNY DEE: Hello Dotty. Yes I’m right on the border Dotty between Whittlesey and the very small village of Eastrea, which is about seven, eight miles from Peterborough. I’ve come down a little country lane, and to my left it’s very idyllic and right out in the countryside really, because there’s a field of wheat to my left, and if I turn just 180° over the other side on the right, there’s this huge area which will be a 55 acre country park, in the mould of Ferry Meadows or indeed the Milton Country Park over your way in Cambridge Dotty. I’ve also got with me a guest. He’s councillor Alex Miscandlon, who’s the Chair of Fenland District Council’s Planning Committee, and a local councillor, and to boot, the new Mayor of Whittlesey. Congratulations Alex.
ALEX MISCANDLON: Thank you very much.
JOHNNY DEE: So Alex, what happened yesterday?
ALEX MISCANDLON: Well yesterday was the final planning permission for the Sainsburys approved supermarket. It was previously approved, but due to technical difficulties they had they came forward with some revisions for that plan. That was then approved yesterday unanimously by the Council, and for the business park, which is to the south of where we’re standing now, and the approval of the country park, which is intrinsically linked to the actual supermarket. The ball is now in the court of Sainsburys.
JOHNNY DEE: We heard that the supermarket could pull out if the decision was not made by the end of June. Did that force your hand in a way?
ALEX MISCANDLON: No, not at all. The professional attitude of all the Fenland Planning Department was paramount, and it was brought forward in the most expedient time that was permitted. No-one forced the hand. The threat that if you don’t do it we would pull out has no bearing in planning at all. It just doesn’t have a consideration in the planning process.
JOHHNY DEE: Now this Alex has been a saga on the scale of war and Peace. Can anything else go possibly wrong here?
ALEX MISCANDLON: Oh. How long is a bit of string? (LAUGHS) I don’t know. You can never say never. Yes, something could go wrong. They could find another Must Farm under it when they start digging up. I don’t know. I can’t say nothing will ever go wrong, because there is always that possibility, and if it does, that’s to the detriment of the people of Whittlesey.
JOHNNY DEE: Let’s pretend nothing goes wrong. When could this all happen on this site?
ALEX MISCANDLON: Again, how long’s a bit of string? They have a planning permission to bring it out of the ground within three years, or start on it within three years. The ball’s in their court to see when they’re going to start. They can’t obviously move a JCB on here today and start digging holes, because there is a lot of underground work to take place with the underground pipes, and the electric cables and everything like that. So it’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. They have a lot of conditions to fulfil before you’ll ever see a building coming out of the ground. But the hope is that it will eventually come out of the ground. So we just have to wait and see.
JOHNNY DEE: A phrase that might seem quite apt is ‘watch this space’.
ALEX MISCANDLON: Yes, watch this very big space. (THEY LAUGH)
JOHNNY D: Thank you very much.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Johnny Dee there in Whittlesey this morning with councillor Alex Miscandlon who is the new Mayor of Whittlesey.