Wadebridge, Sainsbury’s and a Few Bushes
The battle between two of the nations big boys of supermarket took place today at Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee. The target, Wadebridge. Now both of these supermarkets had almost similar plans, and roughly the same store size. Both offered large amounts of money in 106 contributions, but there could only be one (in supermarket terms) winner.
Both claimed to have local public support; only Sainsbury’s had support from the local parish and Wadebridge Town Council. The difficulty in all of this is one application had to go first to state their case. Sainsbury’s won this battle too. When quizzed (by myself) and others as to why Sainsbury’s was first the simple answer was they got their application in first, and Morrisons had some outstanding landscaping issues. This point last point was deigned by Morrisons.
The issue facing both application is in the independent report (many will disagree with it) by GVA it said Wadebridge could support only one additional supermarket. In any planning application when independent information is presented it can either be used for, or against the proposals. If a report says there can be one more and you say no, you can bet your last pound this report would be rammed down your throat and used against you in the almost certain appeal and/or Judicial Review.
To cut a long story short Sainsbury’s got the approval 14 votes for, 3 against. Extra conditions were squeezed out of Sainsbury’s with no more than 20% of retail space for non-food items. A bus too and from the town centre for the life of the store, and not for five years. Lastly an independent survey to be undertaken in two years time to see the impact the store has on the town.
Morrison’s being the second application heard faced an almost impossible task of getting approval because the independent report said there was only space for one. Again, to cut a long story short a vote was taken for refusal and was carried 12 votes for, two against and five abstentions. Many felt they had to abstain because of the issue of priority on which application got heard first. This being a very moot point and will no doubt be included in any legal action undertaken by Morrisons.
I can help wondering if Morrisons had address the landscaping issues; they might have been first up to bat. Have a few trees and bushes cost Morrisons many millions in lost sales?
Of course there is the NON planning issue of Cornwall Council gaining several millions from the sale of the land to Sainsbury’s. But that is not a planning reason, and one that could not be discussed at the committee. However, conspiracy theorist might think otherwise; especially when it comes to who got to go first.
It was a tough call today and one that will no doubt happen again when Falmouth, Penzance and Hayle’s applications are heard.