Store wars as big plan is approved

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SUPERMARKET developers went head to head during a stormy planning meeting in which councillors approved blueprints for a new Sainsbury’s store in Sheffield.

Bosses of rival companies told the council’s west and north planning board that a new Sainsbury’s at Claywheels Lane, Wadsley Bridge, would pull money out of surrounding district centres, damaging Hillsborough, Parson Cross and Stocksbridge.

Mark Dransfield, whose company Dransfield Properties is building a £46 million retail development in Stocksbridge, told councillors they would be committing a “dreadful travesty of justice” if they gave Sainsbury’s planning permission.

Revealing for the first time he had secured an agreement with Tesco to build a store in Stocksbridge, Mr Dransfield said: “This development will be massively detrimental to the area. It puts 1,000 jobs in the Stocksbridge area at risk.”

Asda’s Mark Finch also objected to the Sainsbury’s development because it would “undermine” a new retail scheme being developed at the Chaucer Business Park in Parson Cross in partnership with Sheffield Council.

He said: “The regeneration process is a very difficult one. The store at Chaucer is not even open - it should be protected.”

No Morrisons representative attended the Town Hall meeting but the company sent a letter complaining the scheme would harm their store in Hillsborough.

Sainsbury’s regional development surveyor Kevin MacMillan said the Wadsley Bridge scheme would create 400 jobs and safeguard 350 at neighbouring Fletchers Bakery, which is selling the chain the land for the store.

“This is a high quality, highly sustainable scheme which we are proud of,” he said. “It is our view that there is room for everybody and the competition will be good for consumers.”

Mr Dransfield warned councillors not to be drawn in by the argument the development would help Fletchers, which was partially destroyed by fire in 2006.

He said: “Fletchers received £33.5m to repair that factory. This is a company that is 80 per cent owned by venture capitalists in Luxembourg.

“The £15m that is coming from Sainsbury’s will not be coming to this city.”

But Fletchers director Steve Boyd said all the money would go towards modernising the remaining bakery buildings. He said: “There will be no asset-stripping, there will be no dividends or payments to shareholders.”

The nine councillors voted by six to three to grant planning permission. Lib Dems Coun Arthur Dunworth, Coun Jack Clarkson and Coun Trevor Bagshaw tried to block the scheme, saying they were worried about the impact on small businesses.