PART two of Stroud Store Wars will be played out at showdown meeting this week as rival developers fight for the right to build another supermarket near the town.
Twenty years after Sainsbury’s won a battle to join Tesco and Waitrose on the edge of Stroud, Stroud District Council development control committee will scrutinise three rival bids.
On Thursday evening (July 24), elected members will consider a recommendation to grant permission for ASDA at Daniels Estate at Lightpill, and knock back two other proposed schemes.
Campaigners belive all three should be turned down and the special planning meeting is likely to see heated debate.
While planning policy tests show that the town may be able to take one more supermarket, pressure group Stroud Against Supermarket Saturation disagrees.
“There is some logic in bringing the three supermarket applications together for consideration,” said a group spokesman.
“However there is a clear danger, that this becomes a beauty pageant, with the least problematic proposal being recommended for approval.
“The key unanswered question is whether there is an actual need for a further supermarket in Stroud.
“It is clear from the independent analysis that an additional supermarket in the area will have a devastating impact on Nailsworth, Stonehouse and Stroud town centres – with up to 12% of trade lost from local shops.
“Consumers are increasingly using the internet to do their supermarket shop, limiting the need for more huge out of town supermarkets to be built. This is about developer greed, not customer need.
“Last time councillors were in this situation with the Sainsbury’s development, the council provided seed funding for the farmers market to limit the impact a supermarket would have on the town centre. What steps will they take to protect local town centres this time?”
In 1994, so-called Store Wars broke out after Stroud District Council turned down three proposals for supermarkets just outside Stroud - Sainsbury’s got permission on appeal.
Now ASDA appears to have the best chance of joining the other three in Stroud but Joanne Hampton, who lives near the site said it will spoil their neighbourhood.
“No other supermarket in Stroud is bordered by residential housing,” she said.
“The recommendation to green light the Asda development on Bath Road will make life unbearable for the hundred households surrounding the site if councillors vote this through, with increased traffic, parking restrictions, noise, light and air pollution. The 12 councillors that make up the development control committee should ask themselves this question - ‘would they like to live opposite a 24 hour supermarket and petrol station?’ and vote accordingly.”
Stroud Metal Company boss Matthew Large said the recommendation to turn down his site, for a supermarket believed to be Morrisons, is a blow to the company.
His Avocet Industrial Estate, Dudbridge site is opposite a site that was refused in 1994. He wants to move to safeguard jobs and expand the company.
“I am understandably very disappointed by the officers recommendation,” he said.
“A refusal to grant planning on this site would be a real kick in the teeth for Stroud Metal at a time when we are desperate to expand and we are growing very rapidly and employing more people including apprentices.
“We are concerned that officers appear to have failed to consider what will happen to the site if this rare redevelopment opportunity is missed.
“We can address the flooding issues but the costs of redevelopment and relocation of Stroud Metals will make most alternative schemes unviable meaning that the site will continue in a spiral of decline and could stand derelict for the next 20-plus years.
“This is a unique redevelopment opportunity on land which lies within a Conservation Area and it would seem that if there is to be a new foodstore in Stroud one this is the one that is favoured by Stroud Town Council and Cainscross Parish Council, so we have the bulk of the parish support in that respect.
“SMC will not cut and run with the money from the sale of our site and are anxious to be bound by a section 106 agreement to reinvest the proceeds of the sale of our land into a new 79,000 sqft factory for Stroud Metal on Brunel Way.
“Both the Daniels site and ours will both generate approximately the same numbers of supermarket jobs, therefore the focus should be on what happens to the displaced jobs.
“Our scheme will guarantee the highest number of skilled engineering jobs being retained in the town as well as the opportunity for further expansion created.
“Ultimately, the decision of which site should be granted planning is down to the committee members. This application is not just about a foodstore and I hope that they will see that it is our site that is most in need of regeneration and that it offers the greatest benefits for the town.”
It has been recommended for refusal because of flood risk, it is less accessible than the other sites, it does not make a positive contribution to the Stroud Industrial Heritage Conservation Area, and it would threaten Stroud and Nailsworth town centres if it and ASDA got the thumbs up.
The former Brunsdon site at Ryeford also lost out in 1994 and is expected to again. It is recommended for refusal because it is too far away from a town centre to be sustainable and if given permission with ASDA, would be one supermarket too many.
Property Alliance Group is behind the proposal, which does not have a named supermarket behind it.
“PAG is surprised at the view taken by council officers,” said a company spokesman.
“It is a curious position to recommend building a food store on an occupied employment site with perfectly serviceable buildings in a congested area already served by two supermarkets, rather than on a derelict, contaminated and disused site in Stonehouse.
“Officers have recommended refusal but the final decision is with members. We are currently providing officers with further information that meets the issues now being raised at this late stage.”
Doug Wilson, head of UK property communications for ASDA, said: “We welcome the planning officer’s recommendation and look forward to putting our case to councillors on July 24. We’d like to thank the local community for their continued support.”
The meeting at the council’s Ebley Mill headquarters starts at 6pm. Follow the debate on the night with Stroud Life editor Ben Falconer on Twitter, @benfalconer and on stroudlife.co.uk.