Sainbury’s extension plans – What’s happening behind the scenes?

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In the summer Sainsbury’s put in a Planning Application to make a substantial extension to their local store. Many residents and businesses made comments about the plan, raising important questions about the expansion and the likely increased traffic flows, noise and the impact on other shops in the area and on the local community.  

It was thought that a decision would have been made by 6th October (which was the “Due Date” for the determination of Sainsbury’s planning application); but, this date has now passed and no decision has yet been made. A date for the application to come before Woking Borough Council’s (WBC) Planning Committee has yet to be resolved. Recent discussions with WBC’s Case Officer handling the application suggest that the application is unlikely to be heard until a mid-December committee date at the earliest.

Things may seem to have gone quiet, but just to make clear to local residents…..whatever you may have read elsewhere…..No decision has yet been made about Sainsbury’s Planning Application.There have been delays; the main reasons for the delays appear to be that the Council are still awaiting answers from other agencies to valid questions highlighted by residents. There were a number of matters that were not clear in Sainsbury’s original Planning Application so WBC is waiting clarification on these points:

(a)    Awaiting a consultation response from their Planning Policy department.

(b)    Awaiting a consultation response from Surrey County Council’s highways department (following a request for additional information from Sainsbury’s).

(c)   Awaiting further input from the Environmental Health Department /Planning Enforcement Department regarding the store’s alleged non-compliance with existing planning  conditions and noise nuisance caused to neighbouring residents.

“Behind the scenes” discussions seem to have been taking place between WBC and Sainsbury’s, but none of the additional information submitted by Sainsbury’s has yet been published on Woking Borough Council’s planning portal since 12 August 2010. This is disappointing.

The lack of detailed updates on the WBC website makes it difficult (if not impossible!) for local people to have information about what is happening, so rumours and hearsay can flourish. Residents and businesses cannot know if the concerns they raised in representations to the application (e.g. the traffic impact; the retail impact; the loss of trees within the car park; the design/appearance of the store, etc.) have or have not been adequately addressed by Sainsbury’s.

Prior to the formal committee date to be advised by WBC, the Council will publish a report setting out the Council officer’s opinions on the application. We will publish a link to this report and let you know the proposed committee date as soon as we have it. Please keep checking back here for further information regarding Committee dates, etc.

BACKGROUND: KRA raised objections to that Planning Application on the following grounds:

That there should be Community Consultation – With a Public Exhibition and Meeting so local people could see and understand the application before any decision is made.

That there should be a full Retail Impact Assessment – so that the effect of the expansion on local shops and traders could be properly considered. (A walk through Knaphill village centre gives an idea of the impact that a large store in the neighbourhood can  have on a small, local High Street).

That there should be a more thorough Transport Assessment – because the Transport Assessment submitted by Sainsbury’s seemed to be inadequate.

That the Environmental Impact particularly noise and pollution from increased cars and delivery vehicles.

Concerns about the negative impact on the local community – if there is a loss of small local shops and businesses that support community life.

An online poll on this website suggested that the majority of respondents did not think the expansion of Sainsbury’s would be good for Knaphill.

KRA is pleased to hear from any residents, businesses or community groups etc.  whether they are in favour or against the expansion plans. Please add your COMMENTS below. We think it important that local views are given a chance to be heard and that proper local consultation should take place; and we believe any discussions should be in the open and not behind closed doors.

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About Author

Andy is a business systems and operations consultant for The Business Delicatessen and has helped the KRA over several years. He is former editor of the magazine and also runs Fat Crow Design.

3 Comments

  1. Why should there be a full retail assesment carried out. There are no decent shops in knpahill anyway. The only reason why people know knaphill exists now is because of Sainsburys.

    The only people filling the shops in knaphill are either estate agents or takeaways. Unless Sainsburys is going into selling houses or selling poor quality take away food the why bother completing the assesment for no reason.

    LEt them get on with the development and provide a better service to knaphill and the wider community. As part of the expansion programme will also include them recruiting additional staff from mainly from the local area.

    The points you raise are typical points to try to delay/derail a planning decision. If the traffic gets worse it gets worse. It will then deter some of the longer distance traffic to find another route as they will be held up through knaphill. Allow the local redevelopment works to go ahead so then causing traffic only passing through the area to find other routes.

    My concern is that the landscaping should be retained as currently is around the perimter of the site to sheild the view of the store from the road and neighboring estates

  2. I, for one, do not share Steve’s view that the matters raised by the KRA are “typical points to try to delay/derail a planning decision”. On the contrary, I view the matters raised by the KRA as a succinct summary of the concerns raised by local businesses and individuals who consider that the expansion proposed by Sainsbury will have unacceptable adverse impacts.

    The whole point of the planning system is to balance the rights of one party to undertake “development” (and any benefits that this may bring) with the equally important rights of other parties not to be unreasonably affected by any negative impacts caused by the development. This balance is not an arbitrary matter – it needs to be objectively “tested” against the relevant standards set out in National, Regional and Local planning policy.

    So, in my view, the concerns raised by the KRA are 100% valid:

    Why should there have been community consultation? Because this is actively encouraged in both national and local planning policy.

    Why should there be a full retail impact assessment? Because for a development of this size, planning policy requires it.

    Why should there be a thorough transport assessment? Because the original report appeared to be inadequate – a view apparently shared by SCC highways who have subsequently asked for additional information to be submitted by Sainsbury.

    Why should the environmental impacts (e.g. noise and pollution) be addressed? Because planning policy requires that developments do not cause unacceptable adverse environmental impacts.

    Well done KRA for ensuring that the wider local community are kept informed of the concerns of the individuals and businesses who have contacted you and for drawing these matters to the attention of the Planners. This will hopefully ensure that both the “pros” and “cons” of the proposed development will be fairly weighed by the Planners and ensure that the application is determined in a robust and objective manner.

    Ultimately, if the Planners consider the positive impacts of a scheme (i.e. additional jobs, etc) outweigh the negative impacts (i.e. impact on local businesses, additional traffic, increased noise disturbance, etc.) they will grant permission. If they do not – permission will be refused.

    Whether you are in favour of a development or against it, we all have the democratic right to make our feelings known. This includes the right of a residents’ association to report the views of their community. If you perceive that the comments made by the KRA are more negative than positive, perhaps this simply reflects the majority feedback they are getting from those who contact them?

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