Are the giants taking over?

Travellers pub on Halifax Road, Wadsley Bridge, being knocked down.
Travellers pub on Halifax Road, Wadsley Bridge, being knocked down.
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A TOTAL of 30 supermarket planning applications – some of which sparked long-running battles with residents – have been made in Sheffield in the past three years, The Star can reveal.

Retail giants and smaller developers were responsible for submitting the bids to Sheffield Council, for new sites as well as extensions or alterations to existing food stores.

Andrew Williamsom of Williamson Hardware Broomhill  & Staff

Andrew Williamsom of Williamson Hardware Broomhill & Staff

The information, obtained as part of The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign, shows 17 plans were granted between March 2009 and July this year – for shops including a new Asda store with petrol station on Beighton Road East, Drakehouse, and a huge Sainsbury’s on Clay Wheels Lane, Wadsley Bridge.

Last Friday workmen moved in to demolish the historic Traveller’s Inn pub to make way for Sainsbury’s at Wadsley Bridge.

And, because not all sites require fresh planning permission to become food stores, the true number of supermarkets which has sprung up in the city could actually be far higher.

Ted Gunby, chairman of Carter Knowle and Millhouses Community Group, campaigned against expansions to almost double the size of Sainsbury’s on Archer Road and Tesco on Abbeydale Road.

Mr Gunby told The Star: “We have already got too many supermarkets.

“I don’t think we will ever be able to go back to local shops.

“But if the supermarkets go on and on, one day the bubble is going to burst – they are going to expand too far.

“The claim that supermarkets make about creating jobs is baloney, because it is well known supermarkets take away about 200 more jobs than they create with the damage to local businesses.

“What the supermarkets have done is to destroy all our local shopping centres.

“All they end up with is what supermarkets don’t have – fast food, hairdressers, estate agents and charity shops.”

Among refusals listed in the data was a Tesco ‘superstore’ for Oxclose Park Road, Halfway, which went to a public inquiry.

A controversial Tesco plan for a store at the junction of Springvale Road and Howard Road in Commonside, which was turned down three times, also featured.

Mum Jane Vandervlies, who was heavily involved in a campaign against the Commonside plan on the grounds of highways safety, said the battle had highlighted the ‘might and power of supermarkets’.

She added: “I’m not at all surprised at the number of applications.

“Supermarkets have a huge market share and, once they have that, they can use their resources to get even more.

“Everybody does want convenience and quality, of course, and supermarkets do generally sell quality over a huge range, so I can understand why there is a demand for them.

“My concern is more with the ones that are opened in stupid places.”

Ten applications related to extensions or alterations at existing supermarkets or food stores.

Three bids were withdrawn, and five are still pending original decisions or those on appeal.

Demand is key for us

SUPERMARKETS insisted their stores serve demand, boost business and create jobs.

Sainsbury’s said customer demand was key.

A spokesman added: “Sainsbury’s requirements for new and extended supermarkets and convenience stores depend very much on customer demand.

“Our customers want more choice and they want to be able to shop in a location that is convenient to access, either by car, public transport or on foot.

“Sainsbury’s store extensions also focus on making the shopping experience much better for our customers with modern stores, wider aisles and a bigger and better range of their favourite products.”

Asda said it was ‘underrepresented’ in Sheffield.

A spokesman added: “Consequently we are determined to bring more supermarket choice and our great offer to more customers across the city.

“We recently opened a new superstore in Chaucer to the north of the city, generating significant employment in a deprived part of the city.

“At a time of financial hardship for many families, our commitment to everyday low prices and excellent customer service has been well received by Sheffield shoppers.”

Tesco did not respond to calls from The Star.

And some retailers, including Aldi and Marks and Spencer, chose not to comment.

Lidl said it operated four ‘long established and well regarded’ stores in Sheffield.

A spokesman added: “These stores are located close to the communities they serve, offering a locally convenient and affordable alternative to the larger, out-of-centre superstores.”