Campaigners say fight goes on to oppose supermarket

February 01 2013
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The fight is not yet over for a local campaign group, as they call for a re-assessment on the decision made on proposals for a new supermarket.

Campaigners say fight goes on to oppose supermarket

The fight is not yet over for a local campaign group, as they call for a re-assessment on the decision made on proposals for a new supermarket. Artist's impression of the proposed Sainsbury's

Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury's Horfield (TRASH) acquired 6,550 signatures against the development during the build-up to the council meeting on January 16, where the scheme was approved.

The group argue that the implementation of a Sainsbury's supermarket – which is to be built in place of Bristol Rovers Memorial Stadium at the bottom of Filton Avenue – will have a detrimental impact on the UK's longest independent high street.

TRASH said: “We’re extremely disappointed by Bristol City Council's (BCC) decision to approve the planning application of the largest supermarket in north Bristol.

“It directly conflicts with policy in terms of the location and its size, which is one of the reasons we will be urging the Secretary of State to call the application in.

“If the case doesn’t get called in, then we will be exploring all the avenues open to us to support the views of a majority of local people for whom this large retail development on this site is unacceptable.”

Consequences which will arise from the development require more scrutiny, the group believe. Concerns about the impact on air pollution and traffic congestion were also raised at the council meeting. Approval of the application was voted in by six councillors to three. However, the decision still has to be passed by the Secretary of State, who has three weeks from the date of the decision to respond.

It was argued by those in support of Sainsbury's that without the approval of the development, Bristol Rovers would be unable to build their stadium on the land owned by the University of the West of England in Frenchay.

South Gloucestershire Council approved the 21,700-seater stadium last year. It is expected that it will bring £150 million worth of investment to the area. 

Nick Higgs, Rovers chairman, stated: “While we are delighted that Sainsbury’s have secured planning permission on the Memorial Stadium site, clearing the way for us to build the new UWE Stadium, we do understand the concerns of local traders and residents.

“We are hopeful that over the coming months, everyone will be able to work together to allay these fears. I truly believe that the car parking facilities Sainsbury’s will bring can help to rejuvenate the top end of Gloucester Road.”

It is estimated the store will be around 4,850 square metres in size – larger than Tesco at Eastgate. It will contain 572 car parking spaces and 65 new homes. Work on Sainsbury's is to commence once the club has moved into their new home ground.

Local trader and owner of Pearce’s Hardware Michel Kahn said that similar developments  had had a damaging effect in other parts of the country.

“The Gloucester Road Trading Association made its objections clear to the council and everyone is disappointed with their reaction. You cannot mitigate against losses, which the GVA (commercial property consultants) report clearly defined. Retailers can’t recover from it – once you are gone you’re gone."

The report, commissioned by Bristol City Council, says that 18.5 percent of existing shops’ trade on Gloucester Road will divert to the new supermarket.

Commitment from Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson, to support Gloucester Road has been secured by Bishopston’s Liberal Democrat councillors Bev Knott and David Willingham, who said they have felt from the start the store is too big for the area.

Dr Willingham – who branded the development as “car-centric” and has raised strong concerns about air pollution from traffic around the site – has gained the Mayor's agreement to require Sainsbury’s to provide sound barriers against traffic noise for local residents. George Ferguson also agreed for a senior council officer to meet and support the traders.

Mr Knott said: “Sadly, planners have decided to support a fourth division football club rather than the nationally renowned Gloucester Road.

“Rovers deserve a new stadium, but not at the expense of Gloucester Road. The development will harm local traders and clog up traffic.”

Horfield’s Liberal Democrat councillor Pete Levy spoke in favour at the meeting, saying that residents in the ward showed  overwhelming support.

Local resident Andrew Parker set up an e-petition in support of the development, which received 5,500 signatures. 

Ben Littman, Sainsbury's regional development manager, said: “We would like to thank the thousands of people who provided feedback on the scheme and helped shape the application that was approved. We also look forward to working with local people and traders on how we can work with Gloucester Road.”