Dear BID business
I thought that it would be useful to provide you with an update on the Worcester Woods Planning application and what you can do if you want to comment on the application. The BID board have determined that they support the stance of those businesses who are against the proposal and are encouraging as many businesses as possible to make their views known. Although no clear date for the planning application to be determined has been set, I understand that at the moment they are working towards 24th March. This may be delayed and I will let you know if this is the case.
We held a traders meeting last August to hear from Salmon Harvester who own Cathedral Square (formerly Plaza) and their representatives Carter Jonas explain why they had formally opposed the proposed Worcester Woods Retail Park planning application. They were also in attendance at a traders meeting in Wildwood Bar and Grill, CrownGate in January to provide an update and answer any queries. Worcester BID organised these and it followed a session held in October 2014 by the applicant’s agents, Savills, to inform businesses of the reasons why they want to build a Retail Park on the edge of Worcester.
At the latest meeting, businesses asked if I could circulate once again a ‘guide’ on how to make your feelings known about the application so that everyone would know why and how they should express their thoughts, where to submit their comments, to provide useful background information and to see what other businesses have written to give you an idea of what is expected. A reminder of the questionnaire results which was sent to all BID businesses last June is provided below.
Please click here for a copy of the excellent presentation made by Steve Norris of Carter Jonas last August. Hopefully this will help you to get a clearer understanding of the issues that relate to the scheme in a very non-technical manner. Please use these findings in any comments you may wish to make.
BID Survey Results:
We carried out a survey which was sent to all BID businesses in June and it is clear that businesses need to actively voice their opinion in greater numbers than those who have stated that they will. We had 78 responses (a response rate of 14.2%) and the following key results emerged:
- 74% of businesses in the BID area have a general concern or an objection to the proposal for Worcester Woods Retail Park. Just 1% support it.
- 73% feel that it will have a negative or hugely negative impact on their business if the application is granted. 6% feel it will be positive and 0% feel it will be hugely positive. 21% said that there would be ‘no change’
- 73% feel that it will have a negative or hugely negative impact on the city centre if the application is granted. 12% feel it will be positive and 1% feel it will be hugely positive. 14% said there would be ‘no change’
- Just 8% of respondents will be submitting a comment of their own regarding the application (48% were not sure)
It is clear that the strength of feeling against the development does not match the number of businesses who are prepared to do anything about it by making comments. Clearly, we are keen to ensure that as many businesses as possible make their feelings known. After all there will not be a second chance if the application is granted. Businesses need to act now if you want to influence the Planning Committee’s minds.
How to object to Worcester Woods – Planning Reference: P14Q0562
In order to make sure the council knows how worried you are about the impact of the Worcester Woods proposal, as many objections as possible need to be logged on the file. To do this you should submit your representations on the proposed Worcester Woods development to the planning department at Worcester City Council. To view all of the submitted documents and comments on the proposal as well as making your own submission, please click here.
Here are the comments of some of the city centre retailers that you might wish to view to help you get an idea of what you can write yourself
Armstrongs of Worcester , Sansome Walk
Toys and Games of Worcester , Broad Street
House of Fraser , Chapel Walk, Crowngate
Salmon Harvester (owners of Cathedral Square) – submitted by Carter Jonas
Businessman Duncan Sutcliffe
Amore, Reindeer Court
Wicked Hair , High Street
Federation of Small Businesses
Wise Owl Toys , Charles Street
Knowles Sports / Knowles Travel Goods, Broad Street
When making your representation, you should focus on material planning considerations for Councillors to consider and Steve’s presentation attached has essentially done the hard work for you in terms of what to say. Some examples of these are:
- Impact of the proposals on the city centre
- Impact on jobs and employment
- City Centre First policy of the City Council
- Town Centre First policy in the National Planning Policy Framework
Lobbying Councillors:As well as submitting your comments, at the same time you may also wish to inform the local Councillors who represent the Cathedral Ward in the City Centre. Their email addresses are here:
Cllr Jabba Riaz – Jabba has stated that he is opposed to the development and would be willing to speak at the Planning Committee when the application is to be decided.
Cllr Lynn Denham – Lynn is on the Planning Committee and so cannot convey an opinion before the Planning Committee meet
Cllr Allah Ditta – I am unaware of Cllr Ditta’s views on the application
If you wanted to lobby the Councillor(s) where you live (if it is in the City Council boundary), a full list is available here . If you are not sure of your ward, this link will help
The Planning Committee comprises the following City Councillors just in case you want to let them know your thoughts as well. They cannot comment on the scheme ahead of the Committee meeting at which it will be decided but it is useful for them to know your feelings:
· Councillor Alan Amos (Chairman)
· Councillor Geoff Williams (Vice-Chairman)
· Councillor Patricia Agar
· Councillor Roger Berry
· Councillor Lynn Denham
· Councillor Jo Hodges
· Councillor Mike Johnson
· Councillor Derek Prodger MBE
· Councillor Andrew Roberts
· Councillor Robert Rowden
· Councillor David Wilkinson
Councillor Mike Johnson is also the Portfolio Holder for, amoungst other areas, retail & leisure and as such sits on the Council’s Cabinet.
As well as Councillor Jabba Riaz, Councillors not on the planning committee but who have publically expressed concerns about the application that we are aware of are the new Leader of Worcester City Council Councillor Marc Bayliss , Councillor Simon Cronin, Councillor Alan Feeney, and Councillor Gareth Jones
How the Planning Committee operates is outlined here
Letting the Media Know
The Worcester Observer have published numerous from residents and business owners who are opposed to the scheme. If you want to do the same, email Editor Rob George at email@example.com. Rob attended the original presentation from Carter Jonas so is aware of the proposal.
Tom Edwards at the Worcester News is the contact for your views to be expressed there. He can be emailed firstname.lastname@example.org . He has written various articles on the proposal over the last year and these can be found here
BBC Hereford & Worcester or call 01905 748485
Tim Evans, Owner of Toys & Games of Worcester (@ToysGamesWorc) and a BID Director representing independent retailers has started a couple of Twitter hashtags #saveourcitycentre #no2worcesterwoods which you may wish to use to express your views as well. He has also encouraged some of his neighbouring businesses to put a poster in their shop window click here for your copy and encouraged his staff and customers to write in to express their opposition – and to great effect!
What else can I do?
Beyond the above, there are other things you can do to make sure that the level of opposition to the proposals is widely known in Worcester and encourage others to get involved.
- Start a petition of opposition to the proposals, which can then be submitted to the Council at one of their regular meetings – you could do this conjunction with your neighbouring businesses and provided a combined petition to the city council
- Give a copy of this information to your friends and neighbours (at home and at work) and encourage them to do all of the above
If you have any queries relating to how you can have your say which isn’t covered above then please get in touch with me. Your views are really important so please don’t leave it for others to speak up, and don’t regret not doing anything. If you do submit a formal comment on the City Council’s planning page, please copy me in as I would love to know your thoughts.
I will keep you updated on any progress and confirmed dates for the application to be heard etc. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone else whom you think will want to make a comment on the application.
Head of Worcester BID