Some background information
In2010 Cliftons submitted a planning application to redevelop the site of their old shop at 15 High Street, Knaphill and the bungalow at 6 Fosters Lane. The application was to replace the current shop and workshops with a three storey building containing 12 flats on 1st and 2ND floors and a large shop on the ground floor. This application was agreed with a number of conditions one of which was to limit the hours the shop could be open to customers, under the original planning decision the shop could open from 08.00am until 8.00pm and Sunday trading hours. It was at this points that Sainsbury’s publically stated that they were to take on the lease of the shop but wanted to open from 07.00am until 10.00pm Monday to Saturday inclusive. This request for extended opening hours was recommend to be accepted by Woking’s Planning Authority. The Planning Committee were concerned with the traffic and the impact on residents who live in the centre of Knaphill and agreed to Sainsbury’s being allowed to have the extended opening hours for a trial period of 12 months. Sainsbury’s rejected the offer of a trial and went to appeal.
Planning Officers Decision
The Planning Inspector has found in favour of Sainsbury’s, sorry I should report in favour of Commercial Development Projects Ltd, Sainsbury’s did not want the publicity. The Inspector has given permission for the new shop to be open to customers from 07.00am to 10.00pm (07.00-22.00) Mondays to Saturdays and 08.00am to 09.00pm (08.00 – 21.00). In reaching this decision the Inspector refers to the opening hours of the Co-op and the petrol station. The Inspector also points out that the appeal was only to examine the question of the shops opening hours as the Council had already approved the design and build of the new development. On the request for the extension the Inspector also points out in the report that the Planning Authority fully supported the request for extended opening hours.
One other change is in connection with car parking at the rear of the new store. The majority of parking bays are for the residents of the flats but on the original application 5 parking bays were for staff and customers. The Highways Authority initially stated that they had no objections to the plan and it was passed as originally outlined, 5 parking bays for staff and customers. The Highways Authority then changed their position and by the time the application for extended hours came before the Planning Committee the Highways Authority stated that it would be unsafe for the car park to be open to customers, on grounds of the amount of vehicles entering and leaving the car park. The decision of the Planning Inspector is to revert to the original plan and therefore the 5 parking bays reserved for staff will also be available to customers. The Inspectors argument is that if customers cannot park behind the shop they will park in the High Street and that could result in congestion and highway safety problems.
So 5 parking bays for staff and customers, if say 3 members of staff drive to work that leaves only 2 customer parking bays, people will finish up parking on the road especially early morning and late at night. The passing of this plan will give rise to highway safety issues.
Impact on the village
The basic question is; does Knaphill require two Sainsbury’s stores within 800 metres of each other? This new store will have a detrimental effect on the current choice of shopping in the village; more premises will probably become available for more take-aways. The next question is what will happen to the HSBC bank when the Knaphill branch closes next month, one thing we can be sure of whoever puts in a planning application Woking Borough Council will not take into considerations the views of local resident’s.