Thursday, 25 April 2013

Updated: Sainsbury's announce store changes

SAINSBURY’S is to submit revisions to its stalled plan for Dorridge – to include more floor space - and said work will start within six months if approved.

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The firm said the store – approved in November 2011 –will be reconfigured to allow some non-food goods.

It would open by Christmas 2014 if approved. It originally planned to open this year.

Sainsbury’s put the plan onhold for the “year ahead” in February because of the downturn in the economy. A larger 2,462sqm store plan was refused in March 2010.

The firm would start demolition in the autumn so the core of the store can be built, said Dorridge& District Residents Association chairman Ian Spencer.

He said Sainsbury’s warehousing space will be cut and the colleagues’ area rearranged to create 300sqm more retail floor space, making a total 2,112sqm. Sainsbury's said 300sqm is a "ball park figure".

A temporary Dorridge Practice will open on the car park while the GP surgery is refurbished and extended, said Mr Spencer, who has discussed plans with the firm.

He said: “We are assured that there are no other significant changes: all the road scheme, pharmacy, planting, car parking, cafe/restaurant units surgery agreements remain.”

Mr Spencer said: “Sainsbury’s hope that the small increase in store floor area, which they suggest is in part a reaction to the changing retail environment, will not be seen as too controversial and it is emphasised that this is an internal rearrangement.”
He added: “We suspect that the relatively small change is not going to have a significant impact.”

Mr Spencer said: “We feel that the rapid development of the store is preferable to the uncertainty and delay.”

Sainsbury’s said the changes “do not seek to change the key aspects of size, location of access or the creation of a village square which were key to the original consent”. 

Work would start this year if Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council gives permission, it said. Sainsbury’s is expected to put in a planning application in May.

It said: "Sainsbury’s has committed to start works within six months of such consent being granted, which should enable the development to be completed by Christmas 2014."

Chief executive Justin King said: “We appreciate the patience and continuing support of residents and I would like to reassure the local community that the amendments will not affect the approved overall building size or the overall look and feel of the development. 

“Changes will include the reconfiguration of the floor space, to allow for the inclusion of some non-food goods within the Sainsbury’s store, which are currently unavailable for purchase in Dorridge. We will continue to keep the community updated as we progress.”

Meriden MP Caroline Spelman said she met Mr King at Sainsbury's HQ yesterday to discuss the delay.

She said:“I welcome today’s news. Local people have been unhappy about 50 per cent of Dorridge footprint being boarded up but today’s announcement that the development should be completed for Christmas 2014 is encouraging. 

"The potential viability of the project is affected by the permission granted to Waitrose to open a store in Knowle but, with some internal re-configuration, Sainsbury’s believe they can make the scheme work while keeping key features local people wanted.”

Anyone with questions can call regional development manager Ben Littman on 02476 529 050 or Amy Kershaw on Sainsbury’s Freephone 0800 975 5299.

Update: Sainsbury's said the figures given by Mr Spencer are correct but are a "ball park" figure and no final decision has been made prior to the planning application going in.

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