THE controversy over Sainsbury’s ambitions to expand its superstore in Millhouses will be aired in front of a Government inspector next week.
Objectors and the supermarket giant will argue their respective cases at a public inquiry starting on Tuesday.
It follows the council’s rejection last August of an application to increase the size of the Archer Road premises by 40% – and the company decision to appeal.
The hearing is scheduled over two days at the town hall, with a switch of venue to the Quaker Meeting House in St James Street, next to Sheffield Cathedral, if a third day is required.
The Government inspector will hear all the evidence, then announce a verdict at a later date, usually in a few weeks.
As well as the decision being awaited by the council and the local community, Tesco will also be watching the outcome closely.
It has submitted an expansion scheme for its nearby superstore off Abbeydale Road South, with some of the same issues at stake.
The council has delayed a decision in this instance until the Government’s inspector’s views on Sainsbury’s become clear.
Sainsbury’s appealed after seeing its plans blocked by councillors on the basis of unacceptable levels of traffic and air pollution.
Concerns were raised that nitrogen dioxide emissions were already “at or above” national guidelines in parts of the area.
There was widespread community opposition to the proposed expansion, not only on traffic and pollution grounds, but also on the impact on district shopping centres.
Carterknowle and Millhouses Community Group, which said families on Archer Road could not enjoy their gardens or have their windows open because of traffic fumes, hailed “a courageous decision”.
Critics also warned of the combined effect of a bigger Tesco and Sainsbury’s
At the same time the supermarket giant can point at the public inquiry to local politicians overruling the advice of their officers, who had concluded there would be no major problems if a two-storey extension was built.
The council’s air quality expert said the extension would increase traffic by only 5% and the impact on air quality would be minimal.
A council decision is expected soon on Sainsbury’s scheme for a superstore next to Fletcher’s Bakery at Wadsley Bridge.