11:10am Friday 24th February 2012
By Gary Bills-Geddes
THE county planning officer who recommended refusal of Sainsbury’s application for a superstore in Ledbury said it had not given enough consideration to two alternate sites in the town.
Speaking at the meeting, Roland Close said it was central government’s advice to promote town centres in planning matters, followed by edge-of-town sites, within 300m of the town centre.
However Sainsbury’s proposed site, on the New Mills Industrial Estate, was 850m from the heart of Ledbury.
He said Sainsbury’s had not “appropriately” assessed two possible sites that would better meet the preferred criteria – the existing Tesco site off Orchard Lane and the Lawnside Road area, where the car park, swimming pool, youth centre, ambulance station, fire station, community hall, BT exchange and a number of commercial buildings are currently located. Mr Close said of the Lawnside Road area: “In my view, the site could be re-developed, which could include a supermarket.”
He added: “It seems the applicant has not made contact with landowners and investigated the site in a thorough way.”
But Coun Peter Watts, referring to community buildings such as the swimming pool and youth centre said: “Is Herefordshire Council asset stripping at the expense of the community?”
He added that Bye Street, leading to the Lawnside Road area, was a narrow road and development would have “an adverse effect” on the town.
A reference in the report to the possible redevelopment of Tesco’s Orchard Lane store by Tesco’s was also questioned by members.
Coun Jenny Hyde said: “The mention of an increased size supermarket is very biased in favour of another supermarket.
I don’t think that is a level playing field.
And Coun Marcel Lloyd- Hayes added: “I am unhappy that Tesco has been brought into this debate.”
But Mr Close said: “I am not advocating any specific proposal.
All I am saying is that those sites have not been thoroughly addressed by the applicant, as to whether they could accommodate additional retail space in Ledbury.”
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