Sainsbury’s says it remains “committed” to building a large new supermarket in Southport.
The firm says the store, at Meols Cop Retail Park, would bring “a substantial range of benefits for local people and the local economy” as well as creating 200 new jobs.
Supermarket bosses have now written to Sefton Council to reveal their intentions, after questions were raised over the store’s prospects.
The scheme will come before Sefton’s Planning Committee next Wednesday (August 12).
Saisnbury’s which had planning permission for a larger, 10,942 sq m store granted in 2016, says it is now aiming to build a smaller 7,596 sq m supermarket than originally planned.
A petition will be presented against the plans with Southport councillors John Pugh and Tony Dawson, as well as local firm Southport & Windsor Properties, arguing that the development would draw trade away from Southport town centre and further damage an area already reeling from the closures of Beales and Debenhams department stores in March. Asda is also objecting, saying that the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent events make it impossible to draw conclusions on any potential impact of Southport town centre.
In his letter to the council, Sainsbury’s Head of Real Estate Development Chris Templeman said: “Sainsbury’s remains committed to delivering a superstore to help meet the needs of our customers in Southport.
“Our preference is to secure permission for the revised store sought as part of the current application as it better meets our current business model. However, if planning permission is not granted and UBS is obligated to build the approved store then we will ‘fit out’ and operate that store. As stated previously, we have an agreement for lease in place for that permission for 25 years.
“We trust that this correspondence proves clarity of our intentions in respect of the approved development scheme and our continued desire to deliver a full range foodstore at the application site.
“We very much hope that officers can recommend this application for approval suich that development can commence and we can deliver a new Sainsbury’s store in Southport.
“A positive resolution would deliver a substantial range of benefits for local people and the local economy.”
In their letter to Sefton Council, Savills (UK) Limited said: “the Government has introduced new legislation to ensure the planning system can continue to operate and there is an overt desire for decision making to progress. The Chief Planner has issued direct instructions to Local Planning Authorities in this regard stating: ‘It is important that authorities continue to provide the best service possible in these stretching times and prioritise decision-making to ensure the planning system continues to function, especially where this will support the local economy.’
“The smaller foodstore now proposed will have a lower level of impact than the store already approved.”
Savills (UK) Limited added that the store would generate approximately 200 new jobs as well as creating additional employment positions during the construction phase that would include a commitment to utilise local labour through ‘Sefton at Work’.
They believe that the new store would also “facilitate private sector investment within Southport of approximately £15million.”
Southport BID CEO Rachel Fitzgerald said: “Sainsbury’s are a great company, and one we have worked in partnership with in the past. They are a great brand with a clientele and target market that aligns with Southport.
“We welcome their presence within the town as a whole and hope to see their busy store on Lord Street remain, keeping the link with the brand in the town centre itself.
“We will continue to work with them and support the company in anyway to keep their name on our high street.”
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