TESCO will not have to assess the impact of their proposed new Scarborough superstore on surrounding residents and the environment before submitting a planning application.
It has emerged that Scarborough Council, who stand to make £10 million from the sale of the land off Dean Road, has told the supermarket giant they will not have to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Under law, an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for major developments which “are likely to give rise to significant environmental effects”.
During the process, information is collated and assessed before a decision is reached on whether a project should go ahead.
It is up to the council to decide whether a development of the type Tesco are proposing would fit the criteria that would require an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Scarborough and District Civic Society argued strongly that an assessment should have been completed, citing the proposed store’s size, design, proximity to listed buildings and residential areas and its potential to increase traffic and noise.
However Marcus Whitmore, the council’s area planning manager for Scarborough and Whitby, ruled in favour of Tesco’s developer DPP.
Mr Whitmore agreed that the 11,500 square metre superstore, which will include a 5,500 square metre sales floor, four island filling station and 516 bay car park, “did not raise environmental issues of such proportion to warrant an Environmental Impact Assessment”.
Adrian Perry, chairman of the Scarborough and District Civic Society, was furious when the Evening News informed him of the decision.
He said: “I think it’s scandalous. This is something that is so important to people who live in the area.
“From what I can see, it’s just going to be a standard out of town Tesco which they’re going to plonk down with no thought as to its relationship to the area.
“The old jail is listed and it’s going to be surrounded by parked cars. That’s not sympathetic treatment.”
Mr Perry also said many specifications included in the council’s planning brief, such as any development being of mixed use and including a “green corridor”, were missing from the initial Tesco plans.
He added: “I think it raises questions when the body that is the arbiter is the one which stands to benefit financially. It could cloud their judgement.”
The decision also proved controversial at a community and police meeting for the Northbay, Northstead and Central wards on Tuesday evening, at which Tesco representative Ben Pilgrim gave a presentation.
Members of the public expressed concerns that an environmental assesment would not have to be completed.
Tesco have argued any issues can be addressed during the planning process. A formal planning application is expected to be submitted imminently.
DPP said an assessment was not needed because the supermarket will be in an urban area and steps will be taken to ensure the building design fits into its location.
In a letter from DPP to the council, it was stated: “We maintain that the redevelopment of this previously developed site that has accommodated a hospital and council depot will not have significant effects on the environment.”
Cllr Eric Broadbent, who represents the Central ward where it is proposed the supermarket will be built, was unconvinced by the arguments.
He said he was “extremely disappointed” at the council’s decision.
He added: “I hope they are not looking at taking short-cuts to get this through as soon as possible.
“It’s ridiculous to say it shouldn’t need an assessment which could have sorted things out before it went to planning and alleviated the fears of local people in the community.
“It looks like they are looking to maximise their income without looking at the needs of residents.”
Scarborough Council planning manager Jill Low explained the reasons behind the decision.
She said: “The proposal involves development of a site which is previously developed land within an urban context and in that sense can be considered an efficient use of land resources.
“The environmental impact of waste production, material pollution or nuisance is also not considered to be of such significance to trigger an assessment and as the development does not involve industrial processes, there is no risk of accidents from chemical or hazardous substances and technologies.
“The location of the development is not considered sensitive by regulations although we do recognise that the impact on the surrounding residential streets and on site listed buildings will need careful consideration in the planning application submission.
“Although an Environmental Impact Assessment is not required, the applicant will still need to submit full information in respect of all of the relevant planning considerations, for example retail impact, highway implications, impact on residential amenity and will in fact cover the issues which would have been included with an Environmental Impact Assessment anyway.”