Air pollution fears fail to halt store plan

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SUPERMARKET chain Morrisons was given the go-ahead this week to expand its store between Meadowhead and Woodseats, despite concerns over the impact of traffic on air pollution.

Council officers said that “an identified problem” with air quality in the heart of Woodseats was not so bad near the store and got better nearer Meadowhead roundabout.

However, they admitted, and apologised for, a mistake in producing pollution figures for a report on the effect of the proposed Morrisons extension. They had said the nearest air quality monitoring station was on Hunstone Avenue when it was on Charles Ashmore Road.

The error was picked up by Neil Parry of the East End Quality of Life Initiative, who argued that levels of nitrogen dioxide were already over the European limit and that mitigation measures were “inadequate”.

Officers agreed air pollution readings on Charles Ashmore Road were higher than on Hunstone Avenue but did not alter their conclusion that the effect of the superstore scheme would be “minimal”.

There would not be a “significant” amount of extra traffic and some would turn on to Abbey Lane, without adding to air pollution in the centre of Woodseats.

A monitoring station on Olivet Road, near the main shops, has given readings 25% above European targets.

“So whilst there is an identified problem with air quality in the heart of Woodseats, the air quality levels do seem to improve in the proximity of the Morrisons store, and improve further near Meadowhead roundabout,” said a council report.

It added: “The more immediate impact would be to the south of the site, where currently the levels of nitrogen dioxide fall below the EU limit values, and which would not be exceeded by the traffic generated from the development.”

On Monday, Morrisons was given the go-ahead for a two-storey extension to the front and a single storey at the back.

The company says one of the main aims is to widen shopping aisles and to increase the sales area, making the store less crowded for customers. Staff and office accommodation would be relocated to the new first floor. A proposed extension at the back is designed to accommodate a new freezer store.

The council was told that only two parking spaces would be lost and decided the car park would be able to cope without traffic backing up to Meadowhead.

Asda claimed that Morrisons had not followed a Government procedure for demonstrating the best locations for extra shopping space but Morrisons said its plans were in line with national policy would not affect the viability of existing district shopping centres.