THE Fletchers Group announced details this week of a proposed redevelopment of its bakery in Wadsley Bridge that it says will help to safeguard 400 jobs.
Proposed modernisation of the Claywheels Lane premises depends on selling part of the site for a Sainsbury’s superstore.
While the supermarket chain awaits a council verdict on its application, Fletchers has unveiled its own scheme for council scrutiny, maintaining that it will enable more intensive and efficient production.
The proposed changes involve relocating over one-third of the factory, including two production lines, and significantly upgrading existing facilities. Outdated equipment would be replaced.
Fletchers says that more than a quarter of its workforce lives within the S6 postcode, “so the bakery at Claywheels Lane is a vital part of the local economy”.
Managing director Stephen Holding said: “These proposals are a major part of our strategic vision for the future of Fletchers at Claywheels Lane. They are crucial to achieving the ambitious but achievable goals we have set ourselves for the bakery and its operations.
“We provide work for around 400 people at the bakery and these plans will help guarantee the future of these jobs.
“If granted consent, and subject to Sainsbury’s proposals receiving consent – as this will release the necessary funds – this planning application will lead to the modernisation of production at Claywheels Lane and help us to compete in an increasingly challenging market place. The alternative will be to stand still as a business and this may place our future in Sheffield in jeopardy.”
Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett is giving his full support.
“This is a far cry from the terrible days after the fire (in 2006) when jobs were lost and the future of Fletchers was uncertain,” he said.
“At this critical time for jobs and the local economy, the security and future prosperity which this development could offer is vital, both for the immediate community and optimism and hope at a time of genuine worry for so many families in the north of the city.”
City planners are currently assessing the Sainsbury’s application before preparing a report for councillors. A verdict is expected in a couple of months.
While taking into account the economic considerations and the increased choice for shoppers, they will also judge whether the proposed superstore would cause too many traffic problems and suck too much trade from established shopping centres such as Hillsborough.
lSainbury’s is appealing to the Government after the council refused planning permission for an extension to its store in Millhouses.