Could Sainsbury’s be on the brink of pulling out of Whittlesey? And using ‘onerous’ conditions as the reason?


Sainsbury's - Credit: Archant

Sainsbury’s bid to open a store in Whittlesey looked increasingly fragile tonight after their late efforts to overturn “onerous” planning conditions were rejected by Fenland District Council.

It has now been revealed that the company applied to amend conditions less than three weeks after the council planning committee finally approved their revised application.

The ‘done deal’ euphoria from residents has proven to be short lived for on July 8, Sainsbury’s applied to the council to remove two conditions and to amend a third.

David Hodgetts, of Indigo, advisers to Sainsbury’s, paid £195 to Fenland Council for what they hoped would be “a non-material amendment”. Faced with approval of 20 conditions, the store claimed that “it has become apparent that a number of the conditions are unnecessary or overly onerous” They hoped to have these removed – but planners have rejected them.

Sainsbury’s insisted a condition linking opening of the store with works to the associated country park, effectively duplicated other conditions and wanted it removed.

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They also wanted freedom for home deliveries to be 24/7, thus removing the 11pm to 7am restriction. They said the home delivery service created less noise and emit less emissions than the articulated delivery lorries which could come and go freely at the Eastrea Road site.

But Fenland planning officer Sheila Black insisted the proposal to add inrestrictyed home deliveries to the plans “would amount to a material change”.

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Ms Black said of the home deliveries that “the number and frequency of such movements could be greater than those from larger vehicles delivbering goods.

“It is considered that the restriction of such movements during night time hours is necessary on that basis”.

And she claimed that changes to the agreements on the country park “would be material to the planning permission as originally granted”.

I understand that Sainsbury’s has contractual arrangements with land owners and developers that expire in October- and that these are conditional upon a satisfactory planning outcome.

Should Sainsbury’s not get the outcomes they want, they could walk away from the entire scheme.

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