The latest Application is PLAN/2011/0160 which once again seeks the expansion of the Knaphill/Brookwood Sainsbury’s Store. This application seems to have been made on 24 February 2011 – a number of weeks BEFORE the outcome of the earlier Sainsbury’s Application had been made public.
Sainsburys seem determined to get more sales space in Knaphill; the latest planning documents show that the application is broadly as previously submitted. The main changes are that:
(i) Noise barriers are now proposed around the service yard and access road to address noise concerns raised by local residents.
(ii) A revised landscaping scheme is being offered to address concerns about the loss of trees on the site
but, in terms of the size of the store, the amount of additional sales space remains unaltered.
The new application again asserts that the expansion will not have any adverse retail impact of Knaphill Village Centre and refers to an “independent retail impact assessment” commissioned by Woking Borough Council. This report appears to support Sainsbury’s assertion. However, if you read this report, it raises a number of matters about which some of our members have expressed deep concerns.
Perhaps the most significant of these relate to the size of the proposed expansion. The report commissioned by WBC gives the following information:
1. The expanded store would be the largest retail outlet in the whole of Woking borough.
2. The expanded store would be 42% bigger than Morrisons in Woking and 31% bigger than Tescos store at Brooklands Weybridge.
3. The expanded store would effectively be the same size as the Tesco Extra store in Sandhurst.
The independent report also clearly questions Sainsbury’s motive for wanting to expand – it states: “…given that the extended store would be the largest in the Borough by some 1,978 sqm, we do not agree that the size of the extension is driven entirely by valid planning arguments of improving competition and quality.”
Some members of the community may welcome a much bigger store and choice of goods, but others may feel that such substantial changes may have too great an impact on the local community. Could Knaphill Village survive with a Sainsbury’s of this size so close by? Could the High Street adapt and cope? Or would it be like High Streets all over the country…..with shops boarded up and small traders unable to compete?
As we have noted before on the KRA site, we are aware that shopping habits have change, that today’s customers want choice in goods and services…….But how can the communities around giant retail stores survive?
Please add your comments below, let us know your views – is Knaphill the right location for such a store?
Details of the current application can be found on the WBC website: http://caps.woking.gov.uk/online-applications/
and key in the Plan details PLAN/2011/0160
The retail impact report commissioned by WBC can be found by opening the PDF via this link: Sainsburys_Expansion_Plans_WBC_Retail_Impact _Assessment