Waitrose given go ahead to expand in Saffron Walden

A SUPERSTORE has been given permission to expand as it seeks to establish a firm footing in the future of Saffron Walden’s town centre.

The Waitrose store on Hill Street was granted permission to increase its floor space by 528sqm, roughly the size of a five badminton courts, by replacing parts of the existing car park.

Space for extra toilets and a caf� will be included in the multi-million pound design and there will also be a re-design of the car park to increase space.

Speaking on Wednesday as Uttlesford District Council made the decision branch manager Malcolm Domb said he was “excited by what the improved store will offer.”

As store manager since 1995 he has had a strong hand in the designs and added: “The store has been here since 1985 and this is the first really significant level of investment we have seen.

“We have a key role to play in the future of the town centre and this expansion is not a blocking tactic [against a possible Sainsbury’s] but will enhance the experience for customers and visitors.”

Mr Domb said the expansion will be good for town centre economy, create at least 10 new jobs, and allow room for his store to sell a wider range of goods.

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Concerns were raised by the planning committee which tried to put on conditions to stop the sale of items conflicting with other town centre shops – this was turned down by planning officers.

A unanimous vote followed but one condition was successful. Waitrose will run a shuttle bus during the five months that the car park refurbishment will take place.

A verbal agreement between Essex Highways, Uttlesford Community Travel and Waitrose has been made and a service will run regularly between Swan Meadow car park and the store.

Traffic concerns raised by residents prior to the agreement were taken into consideration but road authority Essex County Council backed the notion that extra floor would only mean a “very minor” rise in traffic. No pedestrian crossings will be put in place.

Waitrose is keen to have the project underway and hope to be at a completion point in early 2012.

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