Decision day looms for controversial Sainsbury's Local store in Coalpit Heath

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a mini supermarket in Coalpit Heath are due to be decided tomorrow (Thursday, May 8).

South Gloucestershire Council’s development control committee will consider the proposal for a Sainsbury’s Local, to be located within a car park at the Badminton Arms pub, which has sparked fury among independent traders who fear they will be unable to compete with supermarket prices.

Shopkeepers on neighbouring Lower Stone Close and Woodend Road have mounted a bitter campaign against the plans, by Box Property Group, and a petition signed by 585 people has been lodged with council planners. However, the council’s planning department has recommended the 397square metre store goes ahead in line with its Core Strategy which supports sustainable development.

The council said a retail impact assessment, carried out by Box, showed the centre of the village was healthy with no empty shops.

Planning officer Olivia Tresise said: “Officers acknowledge that the proposal would have some impact on the existing convenience stores in the centre. This has to be balanced against the increased choice to residents offered by the supermarket in a location accessible on foot and by cycling, as well as by car.

“As such, that the impact on the local centre would be insufficient to substantiate a refusal of planning permission.”

But Edwina Pennell, who has run the Nisa convenience store on Woodend Road for nearly quarter of a century, said residents and traders are not giving up.

“We are continuing to fight because so many local people don’t want this,” she said. “If it goes ahead we will end up with one shop on the edge of the village and our local shops, including the Post Office we have fought so hard to keep, will close down.

“This is going to have a terrible effect and will be a disaster for Coalpit Heath.”

Nearly 450 people have written to the council to object to the plans.

Westerleigh Parish Council said it believed the store would be overdevelopment of the site.

“This council wishes to see development that enhances the local community and not threaten existing infrastructure,” it said. “This application will have a detrimental effect on local shops which will impact greatly on the local community as a whole.”

There are also concerns over the increased traffic on Badminton Road but although Ms Tresise said the council acknowledged vehicles regularly break the 30mph limit on the road, there have been no accidents near the site since 2008.

Box said its evidence found 84.7 per cent of local people are travelling to Yate, Emerson’s Green, Stoke Gifford or Bradley Stoke for convenience shopping with just 15.3 per cent carrying out ‘top-up’ shopping in Coalpit Heath and Frampton Cotterell.

In a statement, the firm said: “It is evidence of lost trade and the need to travel for everyday shopping, which is unsustainable and contradicts identified policy goals to meet local needs for services and facilities locally.”

If approved, the Sainsbury’s store would create 25 jobs, eight full time and 17 part time, and would open 7am to 11pm seven days a week.

The council will decide the application at a meeting at Kingswood Civic Centre tomorrow (3pm).

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