New store plan gets go ahead
PLANS for a new supermarket at Camelford have been approved by Cornwall's planners despite a survey, commissioned by themselves, which warned of dire consequences for the town's economy.
The decision, which saw 18 votes to 1, has been welcomed by some in the town but criticised by others.
The authority spent taxpayers' money commissioning property experts GVA Grimley to look into the impact a new store would have on the existing town centre shops.
Despite research suggesting that some would lose more than half their trade, councillors still approved plans for the new store off Victoria Road.
Members of the authority's strategic planning committee meeting at Truro on Thursday overwhelmingly supported the application by European Land Ltd, hailing the move as an important step in the regeneration of the town, with the creation of hundreds of new jobs.
But GVA Grimley's report said it could in fact result in job losses and, ultimately, shop closures in Camelford.
In its conclusions, GVA Grimley said: "We have concerns that due to the scale of trade diversion and the current modest trading performance of the convenience goods retail sector, the town centre could well experience a number of store closures as a consequence of the proposal.
"We consider that the proposed store will have a significant adverse impact upon the vitality and viability of Camelford town centre."
There were also strong concerns that Camelford's Co-op store would close as a result.
The report went on to warn of the negative impact on retail stores in the surrounding areas.
It predicted Port Isaac would suffer a 6 per cent drop in trade, St Teath, Tintagel and Delabole a 16 per cent drop in trade and Boscastle a 15 per cent drop in trade.
However, councillors were largely unwavering in their support of the scheme.
Councillor Keith Goodenough, conservative member for Camelford, said: "As a result of the recession, Camelford is on the decline. 95 per cent of the people [who were at a recent public meeting] were in favour of the scheme.
"At the moment people are facing a 30-mile round trip to Wadebridge or Bodmin to go to a supermarket – I think we should pass this application."
And despite Grimley's report, Councillor Glenton Brown, Lib Dem member for Tintagel, told the committee: "Delabole, Tintagel and Boscastle will all benefit from this. Camelford has been on a downer for years – this offers a glimmer of hope."
Mark Scoot, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said that the scheme was "undoubtedly important" for Camelford.
He added: "There was clear community support for the scheme – 97 per cent of all food shopping is done out of the town."
Walker Developments, based in Truro, the developers behind the scheme, said that they now faced a judicial review process to finalise the Section 106 agreements on their contribution to highway alterations, affordable housing and a health centre on the site.
"At present we have no idea who will operate the store, but behind the scenes we will be working to make it happen," said Damien Burley, of Walker Developments.
Meanwhile, Tesco, which had an option on a site at the old primary school on the other side of town, has said it will not be progressing its proposals.
"We will continue to focus our efforts on serving our customers from our existing stores in Wadebridge, Padstow and Launceston," said a spokesman.