Sainsbury’s passes first test with flying colours for revised application for new store at Whittlesey
- Credit: Archant
Sainsbury’s passed a critical first test after it won unanimous approval from Whittlesey Town Council for its revised plans for a superstore and country park in Eastrea Road.
Forced to re-apply following what it terms “land ownership issues” it says these have been overcome by proposing three arm not four arm roundabout to access the store.
Councillor Dee Laws, chairman of the town planning committee, said the meeting on Wednesday which debated the plan “was well attended and every seat taken, demonstrating residents strong interest”.
Ian Forster of Gildenburgh Water was the only dissenting member of the public to oppose the application.
Cllr Laws said because of the nature of the application all town councillors were invited and not simply those on the planning committee.
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Marie Allaway of Sainsbury’s explained that since the first application was approved in 2013 by Fenland District Council “we have faced a number of legal challenges which have resulted in unavoidable delay to the progress of this project”.
She said that despite the best efforts of Whitacre Management, who had put the scheme together, and Sainsbury’s own legal team they had been unable to secure the land required for access.
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Additionally “food shopping habits have changed considerably since the submission of the original application”.
But Sainsbury’s insist the scheme will go ahead with a “number of minor improvements which reflect the changed retail format whilst also seeking to address the access issue”. Sainsbury’s will now allow more concession outlets in store to increase the range of services for customers.
Their town planning manager Dave Lazenby said, in a letter to the town council, he was “acutely aware of the frustrations of the local community, especially those who have personally invested time into supporting us.
“The delays brought about by the legal challenges were unfortunately unavoidable.”
Bruce Smith of Whitacre told the council he was “confident that Sainsbury’s will build a new store in Whittlesey; the support from Whittlesey has not gone unnoticed by them”.
He said plans for an adjacent 54 acre country park and business park were well advanced and there could be a new health centre as part of the development.
A fitness centre and eye hospital specialising in cataract removal had also expressed interest in moving to the business park.
The final decision on the revised plans goes before Fenland Council planning committee shortly.