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02 June 2012

Newsletter: Development News

There has been progress on the application for 55-59 Honor Oak Park (the former Honor Oak Tandoori) to turn three shop units into one. The Council held a public meeting on 19 April, to which both objectors and supporters attended. A short additional consultation period was added because the address on the paperwork didn’t include no. 55 and was therefore incorrect.

It has been confirmed that Sainsbury’s want to open a convenience store in the new unit. Some objectors are concerned about the effects of a supermarket chain on existing grocery shops, and some are against supermarket chains in general. However, in planning rules competition to existing businesses is not a valid ground for refusal.

Issues that are valid in considering planning consent are traffic and parking. The meeting heard that deliveries would be made via the front of the store, by four vans a day, outside of peak hours. Parking was not thought to be a concern because there are already short-term parking spaces along the parade. The neighbouring funeral directors need to maintain access to the rear of their premises during the building work and assurances were given at the meeting that this would be accommodated.

There are arguments that having a major supermarket chain on a high street can have a positive effect for local businesses because it increases footfall and can bring extra custom to nearby shops. Plus, such stores have a free cash machine and this makes it easier to access cash that can be spent locally. Examples are cited where existing competing businesses have survived and even thrived by adjusting their offering to complement a new supermarket. However there is no certainty that all local grocery stores would survive and it's understandable that local traders fear they may lose customers and their livelihoods.

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