THE Marsh Harrier Public House opened on the St Ives ring road quite recently; and within months we have had the Robin Hood and Manchester Arms closing, the latter blaming the Marsh Harrier for its demise.
Now the owners of the site of the Manchester Arms have submitted a planning application for four retail units with parking. That two-for-one ratio could result in the closure of eight shops in the town centre.
The Marsh Harrier has up to a £1.20 per visit advantage over places to eat in the town centre. Ring road businesses with free parking have a huge advantage over those in the town centre with parking now charged at 60 pence per hour.
The office developments on the ring road are car access only, just like America in the 1970s where you cannot walk but have to drive. Ironically, in some developments the authorities have insisted on limited car parking to help cut down on car use, but employees have to drive round the corner just to get lunch.
The officials responsible for overseeing the ring road developments have not insisted on any pedestrian links to St Ives town centre or to the guided bus.
What has been happening on the ring road since the recession in 2008? As there are many thousands of square metres of unlet offices, it seems the developers are looking to put in other forms of development.
Endurance Estates, which owns the site on which the Marsh Harrier is situated, recently announced the cancellation of a 150-bed budget hotel on the site (The Hunts Post, March 7). Mr Mike Purchas, one of St Ives's leading hoteliers and a great supporter of the town, told The Hunts Post: “A 150-bed hotel there would see off all the other hotels for miles around.”
So the hotel development would have resulted in three more huge empty buildings in the town centre – that's a ratio of one new development on the ring road resulting in three empty properties in the town centre.
We believe that the amount of out-of-town retail, leisure and other non-office development being considered around the St Ives ring road will destroy our town centre.
In his introduction to the recently published 'National Planning Policy Framework' (March 2012 Department for Communities and Local Government) the Rt Hon Greg Clark, Minister for Planning, states that: “Our historic environment – buildings, landscapes, towns and villages – can better be cherished if their spirit of place thrives, rather than withers.”
The policy promises to: “Recognise town centres as the heart of their communities and pursue policies to support their viability and vitality.' (point 2:23 of the National Planning Policy Framework).
If we want to retain a town centre and grow our town in a sustainable manner, as a community we need to persuade HDC's officials to stop development on the ring road that could and should be located in the town centre. That means no retail, no hotels/motels, no car show rooms, no leisure on the ring road.
We hope those seeking re-election in early May will let the electors know where they stand with regard to the destruction of our town centre by non-office development on the ring road.
JANE and RICHARD WATERS
Time for Health