Proposed Tesco Store, Viaduct, Carlisle

Return to Homepage

Submission by Eric Martlew, MP for Carlisle

Viaduct Estate Road, Carlisle
Appeals By Tesco Stores Limited
Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Thank you for allowing me to give evidence in this Public Inquiry. I wish to oppose the planning application for an extended Tesco store on the Viaduct Estate Road and to comment on the reserve matters of the smaller proposal which already has planning permission.

Firstly, May I give you some brief biographical details.

I was brought up in the City and was first elect as a Councillor for Denton Holme in 1972 (the ward neighbouring this development and which will be badly affected). On Local Government reorganisation I represented the same ward until 1988 as a County Councillor and I served 2 years as Chairman of the County Council.

In 1987 I was elected to Parliament. I will, this year, have served 20 years representing my home city and will have represented the people of Denton Holme for 35 years. You can take it from this that I know the area quite well.

Before being elected to Parliament I worked as a manager for a large multi-national company.

From the very start I have been opposed to any supermarket development on this site.

I was critical of Carlisle City Council when it granted planning permission as I believed - and still do - it was a totally inappropriate location and if developed would lead to severe problems for the city.

The issues are as I see them.

Leads on to another major objection - traffic congestion.

The increased volume of traffic would have a disastrous impact, both in the locality of the development and throughout the city itself.

Indeed, the recent improvements of an additional lane to Nelson Bridge has not had a major impact on traffic flow. It is still a bottleneck and local motorists will avoid, if possible.

The development will create traffic chaos.

The problems caused by traffic congestion in the City is such that in 2004 I called a Traffic Summit which was attended by City and County officers and Councillors, Department of Transport, Stagecoach and the local taxi association. The County, as Highway Authority were so concerned they appointed a Traffic Tsar for Carlisle.

This is why I find it difficult to accept the County Council's initial Traffic Assessment for the area. However there was a perception of a conflict of interest as the original landowner.

I feel that if this plan is given the go-ahead the gridlock will be such that the only solution would be for Cumbria County Council to impose some form of congestion charge just to keep the City moving. I don't think this is what they would have had in mind when they sold the land.

I do however accept that there is a need for another supermarket. Looking at the locations of our existing ones - 2 in the north and 1 in the east - it would seem logical to site one in the South West of the City.

This would result in the people living in the west of the city using the roads to go out of the city - thereby avoiding coming through the centre.

People coming from the villages and towns to West e.g., Thursby, Wigton, Dalston, would not need to go through the city centre.

But if permission is given for this Tesco application it would use all the capacity and nothing would be built in the west of the city.

Another major concern is the actual siting of this proposal and the visual impact it will have on the historic core of the city.

Many people gain their initial impression of Carlisle from the train.

If coming from the north - you cross over the beautiful river Eden, the finest salmon river in England, you see the rolling parkland of the Sheepmount and Bitts Park, then the impressive Norman Castle, to the right there is the listed building of the old brewery, then the ancient West Walls, the Cathedral and St Cuthbert's and the ancient steps at the Sallyport. Then you can see the turrets of the Citadel then into Carlisle Station. A fine example of Victorian railway station.

But what these proposals will do is to add an ugly, unsympathetic building, no doubt covered with tasteful adverts and neon lights, which will brutally jar with the ancient city.

I hope that if this appeal for a larger store is refused and Tesco insist on building the smaller one they have planning permission for, that it is designed in such a way to be sympathetic to its historical surroundings.

However, I am doubtful whether sympathy would enter the equation as I believe that one of the proposals for pedestrian access is to build a ramp from the West Walls and Sallyport Steps- ancient monument.

Finally, can I come to the affect this would have on Carlisle Renaissance proposals in the viaduct area.

In January 2005 Carlisle suffered the worst flooding in an urban area in 50 years. Thousands of homes and properties were devastated - 3 people were killed - 2 elderly ladies drowned in their own homes. The total insurance costs were £1/2 billion. You may have seen footage of this on the television but you had to be here to understand what the population went through.

I have enclosed a book, The Great Flood just for information. Carlisle Renaissance was borne out of this tragedy and it gives the community a sense that something good would come out of the wreckage.

It has support from the local councils, myself as MP and the Deputy Prime Minister who has visited the city on two occasions relating to this. On both occasions he stressed the need for "inspirational and quality" architecture and design.

As you have been made aware from the City Council one of the prime locations for the Renaissance is the Viaduct Estate. This is apt as it was under 5 feet of water. Now we have a golden opportunity of bringing the riverside to life - to uplift the area and give it a future.

Following the flood the essential need was to prevent it from even happening again.

This has resulted in me having lengthy and fruitful discussions with the Environment Agency.

What they have accepted is that in curtailage of the city the flood defences of the Caldew and Eden will be of high quality with the sympathetic use of the appropriate materials. Not only will they be providing flood defences but will taken the opportunity of enhancing the landscaping along the riverside walk opposite the proposed store.

Since I was elected 20 years ago, one of my main objectives has been to establish a University of Cumbria. Approval by the Government was announced last year and now the search for a site for the headquarters is underway. I understand that active consideration is being given to its location on this site. This would obviously be a prestigious development and anchor the Renaissance proposals for mixed development.

If the superstore application is agreed it will have two effects:

  1. It will severely reduce the use of the remaining land because of the traffic problems I outlined earlier.
  2. Secondly, no building of inspirational quality will be built - because the whole area will be blighted and eclipsed by a supermarket on stilts. And 69% of local people voiced their opposition to a Supermarket on this site, in a recent poll conducted for the Renaissance scheme


My reasons for opposing the large store are:

Another Tesco!

A price not worth paying.

Return to Homepage

On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB