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Friday, January 25, 2013

Chamber feels "cheated" over Sainsbury's plan

MEMBERS of Llangollen Chamber of Trade and Tourism believe they have been “cheated” over the controversial plan to build a new Sainsbury’s supermarket in the town.

And they say that if they had known the outcome of  Denbighshire County Council’s planning process they would not have supported the scheme in the first place. 

They also accuse Sainsbury’s of “riding roughshod” over local opinion. 

When the details of the scheme to build a 20,000 square foot food store on land currently occupied by the Dobson & Crowther print works off Berwyn Street was first revealed the chamber decided that rather than object to the application it would support it. 

This was on the strict understanding conditions would be imposed preventing a café being operated on the premises, there would be no delicatessen or butchers counters and that pedestrian access to the town from the supermarket car park would be changed. 

Chamber chair John Palmer stressed these stipulations when he made a short presentation to the planning committee as it considered the application last October. 

The committee approved the plan subject to certain conditions but the formal certificate of decisions later indicated there would be no café permitted. 

Some of the other conditions were rather vague, according to the chamber.  

Soon afterwards the developers submitted an appeal against some of the conditions, including the one covering the café ban, and it became clear they were in fact seeking an extension of the original café area.  

When it was considered last December, the planning committee decided to uphold the appeal despite another presentation from Mr Palmer objecting to the proposal on the basis the town stood to lose a considerable amount of passing trade.   

Mr Palmer said this week: “In the discussions with the developers before the application was submitted it was made very clear to them the chamber would object to a café as part of the development and we were led to believe that it would not be included in the application.  

“The reason for objection to a cafe was to protect existing café businesses in the town centre.

 “The fact that it was included but rejected as part of the committee’s original decision suggested that the outcome was satisfactory.  

“However, the results of the appeal now mean that some of those businesses are vulnerable.” 

Mr Palmer added: “There would appear to be no legal redress for  the chamber and members feel the planning committee succumbed to the power of large organisations and were afraid of any legal challenge if they failed to uphold the appeal.  

“Our members now feel cheated and had they known the outcome of the café issue, would not have supported the original application.  

“The power of the supermarket over local opinion has succeeded again.”

Responding to this story when it was carried in the Leader yesterday (Thursday) Andrew Sanderson, development manager for Sainsbury’s, said: “While Sainsbury’s has not been leading on this supermarket application, we met several local people including John Palmer during public consultation.

“We do not feel a small coffee bar in the supermarket would compete with the range of cafés in the town. Customers use our cafés while doing their food shopping, not as a destination.

“An independent retail consultant commenting on the planning application agreed a café is unlikely to be as attractive to most tourists as existing facilities, which we accept are primarily serving a tourist market.

“Sainsbury’s wants to work with the town and has already offered free marketing space in the store for use by local independent businesses.

“We want to encourage shoppers using the store to also make trips into the town to enjoy the hospitality Llangollen has to offer.”

A spokesman for Denbighshire Council said: “All of the planning applications relating to the food store development in Llangollen have followed a due process of consultation, assessment and determination by the elected members of the planning committee.

“Decisions have been made having regard to all representations received and in accordance with adopted planning policies and guidance.”

1 comment:

  1. Surprised that the chamber of trade weren't more clued into the practices of the supermarkets