St Ives pub looks set to become out-of-town supermarket

13:48 12 September 2013

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DESPITE opposition, developers look set to get the green light to turn a St Ives pub into a supermarket.

Uavend LLP bought the Manchester Arms from Punch Taverns last October and appointed the Pegasus Group to submit to Huntingdonshire District Council plans to extend the existing building and convert the entire space into a retail unit with customer parking.

The application claims the Manchester Arms, on Needingworth Road, is no longer financially viable as a pub since the opening of Marston’s Marsh Harrier a few hundreds metres up the road.

While the scheme does not need permission to change the use from a pub to a supermarket, planning permission is needed from HDC for the extension.

Despite 15 letters of objection from neighbours and town centre businesses, HDC’s planners have recommended the council’s development management panel approve the plans when it meets on Monday (September 16).

The report says the principle of the proposed development is acceptable, the design and landscaping are satisfactory and the character and appearance of the area would not be significantly harmed.

But, there is concern an out-of-town supermarket will hit footfall, and profits, in the town centre.

Jane Waters, who runs Time for Health in Station Road, said: “Clearly this is a proposal for a St Ives ring-road supermarket which aims to capture traffic exiting the guided bus car park and the A14.

“The proposed retail unit is larger than 90 per cent of the town centre shops and approximately the size of Budgens.

“Such a development would discourage use of town centre businesses, thus reducing the sustainability of the town centre. It has the dual advantage over the town centre of free car-parking and probably lower business rates – yet it is less than a mile from the town centre.”

Other opponents to the development claim there is already adequate retail provision in a nearby BP petrol station and add the scheme would create a litter problem and anti-social behaviour, and set an inappropriate precedent.

It is not known which chain will operate from the site, which will be a similar size to Tesco Express store in Somersham.

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