Sainsbury's and Tesco neglect transport provision, says environmental group

PUBLISHED: 08:06 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 22:04 31 May 2010

PUBLIC transport provision has been neglected in the planning applications submitted by Sainsbury s and Tesco, an environmental group has said. Sustainable Uttlesford has criticised the two Saffron Walden developments saying that both of the supermarkets

PUBLIC transport provision has been neglected in the planning applications submitted by Sainsbury's and Tesco, an environmental group has said.

Sustainable Uttlesford has criticised the two Saffron Walden developments saying that both of the supermarkets' transport assessments contain "many errors".

Any plans to expand the Tesco store on Radwinter Road should be rejected until it offers "park-and-ride visits to the town centre from its car park" said chairman of Sustainable Uttlesford David Corke.

He added that the supermarket should contribute significantly to the costs of the bus service which, at present, is provided entirely at tax-payers expense.

"Tesco plans to spend nothing on improving bus facilities, which it has neglected for years," he said. "The Tesco bus stop still has a sign boasting 'the Post Bus stops here' despite the service having been withdrawn years ago."

In comparison, Sainsbury's - which is planning to build a new store on Thaxted Road - offers some important support for public transport.

"It is willing to fund a more frequent seven-days-a-week town-bus service based on the existing route-34 but running three-times an hour," said Mr Corke.

"It also plans to allow customers to leave their cars in its car park while taking a bus into town for an hour or two's shopping at town-centre stores.

"Unfortunately, Sainsbury's good intentions are marred by a poor understanding of how the existing bus services work and what needs to be improved. Like Tesco, they have made their predictions of usage rates of public transport based on studies in other parts of the country, rather than finding out how many people actually use the existing Saffron Walden services."

Sustainable Uttlesford has now called for Uttlesford District Council's planning department to have access to accurate bus-usage statistics before making their decisions.

"If Tesco and Sainsbury's are serious about encouraging shoppers at their stores to use public transport, perhaps they should consider offering to refund part or all of the bus fare against purchases at their stores, in the same way that Waitrose refund car-parking charges," said Mr Corke.

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