A new £2m BP petrol station, M&S Simply Food store and Wild Bean Cafe has opened on the edge of Soham, Cambridgeshire, having been developed by retailer Jonathan James’ new business, James Construction and Developments Ltd.

Planning permission was gained for the site in July 2016 and construction began in mid August. Jonathan purchased the land for the site from Cambridgeshire County Council earlier in the year.

Jonathan, a Soham resident, sold his town centre Budgens store to Asda in 2013 having argued that plans for a supermarket proposal on the edge of town would “decimate the high street” and contradicted both the council’s Soham Vision planning document and national planning guidelines.

Despite these concerns East Cambridgeshire District Council granted permission in May 2013, but the application was withdrawn in preference for housing on the site after no supermarket operator came forward.

“My argument all along was that the need for a supermarket should be met with a town centre location and not one out of town,” he said.

“Accordingly, with Asda in the very centre of town and the increased footfall, Soham now has a vibrant high street with hardly any empty retail units. The Soham Vision planning document very clearly stipulated the need for a convenience store in the north of Soham and this has been met with the new development along with a forecourt to help meet the needs of passing motorists and residents alike.”