THE Co-op has launched an appeal against refusal of planning consent for a petrol station beside its Rainbow supermarket in St Ives.

THE Co-op has launched an appeal against refusal of planning consent for a petrol station beside its Rainbow supermarket in St Ives.

The company's previous consent had lapsed, and it applied to Huntingdonshire District Council to renew it. That application was turned down earlier this year - against the advice of planning officers - because of the extra traffic it would have generated.

Anglia Co-operative's Chief Executive John Chillcott said on Monday: "There were no technical objections to the planning application in respect of planning, environmental or highways issues.

"The application and subsequent appeal were submitted merely to renew the existing consent granted on appeal by an inspector who had considered those issues."

He added: "There is a clear need for investment, jobs and amenity to ensure the continued vibrancy of the Burleigh Centre.

"I am mindful of the objections some local residents have to the scheme and would encourage them to make their case to the appeal accordingly in order that we can have a final judgement from the Secretary of State that properly reflects the views of everyone concerned."

There will be no formal public hearing of the appeal, which will be determined after an inspector has visited the site and considered evidence.

Objector Jean Eason, who lives in nearby Arran Way, said: "We cannot take it for granted that, because HDC refused planning, the planning inspectorate will do the same. The planning inspectorate reversed HDC's decision in 2004, and it is only because the Co-op allowed the permitted planning period to expire that we don't already have a petrol station on our doorsteps."

She urged fellow protesters to write to the inspectorate to ensure views were heard.

And she criticised the timing of the Co-op's decision to appeal. "The appeal appears to have been lodged within the six months allowed, but only just," she said.

"I have no doubt this is deliberate. They are probably hoping many of us will be on holiday, busy looking after children on their summer break or moved away."