Essex: Councillors move to block Sainsbury’s and Tesco plans for expansion

PUBLISHED: 10:28 16 September 2010

GIVING two supermarkets permission to expand in Saffron Walden would cause “irreversible damage” to the town centre, councillors have warned.

The town council held a special meeting on Tuesday, when councillors moved to block plans submitted to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) by Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Sainsbury’s currently has an application on the table to build a superstore on the former Granite site in Thaxted Road, while Tesco has its sights set on expanding its Radwinter Road store.

However, town councillors voted against the plans in a show of unity in a call to ‘preserve the town centre’.

The motion was proposed by Cllr Heather Asker; the town council agreed with the view that ‘building these supermarkets would do irreversible damage to the town centre, greatly increase through traffic and cause unacceptable air pollution’.

Cllr Richard Freeman, who seconded the motion, said: “Once the town centre is gone, it is gone; you cannot reverse the process. The damage is irreparable.”

The town council had previously made no objection to the proposals, merely raising some concern about the potential traffic implications – although their views had been based on Sainsbury’s research alone.

Tuesday’s meeting was called following the increase in information which has since been made available in the relevant applications, from the two supermarkets themselves and other interested parties.

The council’s latest view will now go to the district council. It is anticipated that the Sainsbury’s and Tesco plans will go before the development control committee by the end of the October.

Yet there is no indication at this stage what stance the committee will take; the Sainsbury’s application, in particular, has both strong opposition and support mounting against it.

Save Walden Town Centre formed on the back of the supermarket applications and is currently bidding to commission its own independent study after insisting that the current level of advice being fed to UDC is of “poor quality”.

Meanwhile, Saffron Walden Needs Sainsbury’s has almost 1500 supporters on the social networking site Facebook. The group was set up by resident Nicky Agar, who described the town council’s new stand as “very disappointing”.

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