Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sainsbury's plan 1% smaller

THE amount of shop floor space in a new Sainsbury’s plan for Dorridge is just 1 per cent less than a scheme rejected last year, the firm has said.

Dorridge_view_1_-_from_car_park_of_Arden_Buildings - Copy

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While the supermarket sales are has been reduced by 26 per cent to 4,414sqm from the last scheme, the floorspace for extra shops has risen.

It now proposes seven retail units and two kiosks of 1,239sqm compared to 549sqm for the last scheme, rejected by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in March 2010.

This means the total floor space is 5,653sqm compared to 5,689sqm before, a reduction of one per cent.

The firm said this was to support parking on top of the store instead of below as originally proposed.

Yet it said the Sainsbury's sales area was the key figure as this will drive demand for the store.

As previously reported by The Silhillian, the entire store – including sales and backroom areas - would be 14 per cent smaller.

Sainsbury’s produced figures to show campaign group Dorridge Residents Opposed to Village Superstore was incorrect to say the development would be 48 per cent bigger.

The store included the 1,239sqm figure five times in its planning application as its wanted “flexibility” on the type of retail use that would be used.

These were counted five times by DROVS, leading it to publicly claim the development is 48 per cent bigger.

The campaign group said: “DROVS is pleased that Sainsbury’s has acknowledged the error they made.”

At the time of the 48 per cent claim, Sainsbury's said DROVS was putting out “completely inaccurate and misleading” information but did not explain why.

It is part of two detailed responses (here and here) from Sainsbury’s to questions and concerns from DROVS over the plan, which is the council is expected to make a decision on soon.

Click here for previous Sainsbury's stories.

Sainsbury’s said: “There is a clear need for the proposal. The scale of development is critical
to clawing back lost trade to Dorridge.”

Village shops take just four per cent of trade from the area, it says.

“The majority of residents are choosing to shop elsewhere. This is not a healthy position
for shops in Dorridge.

“The scale of the supermarket proposed will help retain expenditure locally. Local shops will benefit from linked trips.”

A DROVS commissioned report by planning lawyer Jeremy Cahill QC said the scheme goes against national and local planning policies.

The plan does not meet national policy PPS4 which says plans must be “consistent” with surroundings and an “appropriate scale” he said.

But Sainsbury’s says PPS4 backs economic growth in existing towns and villages, and this accords with its store plan.

Mr Cahill said the need for a supermarket in Dorridge is not included in a 2006 council blueprint on future borough development and its successor, currently being consulted on.

Yet Sainsbury’s said the 2006 plan is ‘largely out of date’ and its replacement carries “minimal weight” as the Government is changing planning laws to allow a presumption in favour of “sustainable development”.

And it says the plans “do not constitute new retail floorspace” as the 5,653sqm is similar to the total size of Forest Court, 4,100sqm.

It even says: “Sainsbury’s could operate a foodstore of a size comparable to the application proposals within Forest Court without the need for planning permission.”

Yet DROVS hit out at Sainsbury’s for including the atrium and residential units in the 4,100sqm figure.

When these are taken off, existing shops total 2,904sqm, almost half the proposed Sainsbury’s plan.

The firm has acknowledged the car park could be full at peak times but said: “In reality, if the
car park were ever to get this busy, customers would simply revert to using stores elsewhere or change the time at which they choose to visit the store.”

The planned 175 spaces could accommodate the 20 to 30 staff who work there at one time, Sainsbury’s said.

The firm will be “encouraging staff to travel to the store by sustainable modes such as by bus,
walking and cycling as well as encouraging car sharing”.

Yet DROVS said: “Sainsbury’s traffic assessment still ignores the proposed seven retail units, allowing them to claim a far bigger reduction in traffic flows than can be expected.”

It said staff from the other units will have to use spaces too.

The group added: “DROVS was disappointed that so many questions needed to be asked to get clarity on the impact that this development would have on Dorridge and Knowle.

“Unfortunately, despite recent publications from Sainsbury's developers, many of our questions remain.”

Sainsbury’s also responded to concerns from The Knowle Society about lorries, to come from the Warwick Road down Station Road to Dorridge.

The firm said: “The work submitted in support of the application shows that delivery vehicles
can navigate the Station Road / Widney Road / Grove Road roundabout and will not impede traffic flows.

“It is not anticipated that the development will generate significant additional traffic in the direct vicinity of Arden School.”

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