The secretary of state called in Sainsbury's proposal for a 9,163m2 store at a former factory. The company claimed that all town centre sites had been investigated and none were capable of a scale and quality of development that would provide more choice and reduce loss of convenience goods expenditure from the town.
This contention was disputed by Morrisons, which drew attention to an application it had submitted to expand its town centre store. This was supported by the council in principle. Morrisons asserted that the scheme would be viable due to anticipated turnover in an enlarged store and its aim to increase market share.
The inspector assessed town centre sites and the Morrisons scheme in particular. This required the agreement of landowners and it was not clear whether compulsory acquisition would be required, he remarked.
In addition, the scheme would require retail provision at first-floor level with access by a travelator, stairs and a lift. The inspector doubted if this would deliver the type of store required to compete effectively with other facilities attracting bulk food shopping trips. While accepting that flexibility had been shown, he felt that it would fail to meet the local need.
The secretary of state agreed that the Sainsbury's scheme would allow redevelopment of a brownfield site and secure economic and physical regeneration in an area of high unemployment and deprivation, in accordance with PPS4. He decided that it would not prevent, inhibit or delay town centre proposals. The Morrisons scheme was unlikely to go ahead in the foreseeable future even if the Sainsbury's proposal was rejected, he held.
DCS Number 100-068-785
Inspector Steve Amos; Inquiry.