Sainsbury’s gets go-ahead as store wars break out

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SAINSBURY’S was granted permission this week for a superstore at Wadsley, despite rival supermarket groups claiming it would have a damaging effect on district centres in Hillsborough, Parson Cross and Stocksbridge.

Councillors approved the scheme for land next to Fletchers’ Bakery off Claywheels Lane by six votes to three.

Coun Ibrar Hussain said: “The local jobs this development will generate are really important. These are difficult times and a choice has to be made.

“When Morrisons was built at Hillsborough the same things were said about it hurting local shops. But some years later we have a good local centre there.”

One of the protests came from Mark Dransfield, whose company Dransfield Properties is lining up a £46m retail development in Stocksbridge.

He warned councillors it would be a “dreadful travesty of justice” if Sainsbury’s was given approval, revealing that he had secured an agreement with Tesco over a site in Stocksbridge.

“This development will be massively detrimental to the area,” he said. “It puts 1,000 jobs in the Stocksbridge area at risk.”

Asda’s Mark Finch objected to the proposed Claywheels Lane development because it would “undermine” the new shops, including an Asda, at the nearby Chaucer Business Park in Parson Cross, which was being developed in partnership with the council.

He said: “The regeneration process is a very difficult one. The store at Chaucer is not even open – it should be protected.”

A letter from Morissons warned of the potential harm its store in Hillsborough.

Council officers concluded that the impact of superstore on district centres was within acceptable limits and judged the traffic implications to be acceptable as long as changes are made to junctions.

Sainsbury’s regional development surveyor Kevin MacMillan said the scheme would create 400 jobs and safeguard 350 at Fletchers Bakers, which is selling land to finance modernisation. “This is a high quality, highly sustainable scheme which we are proud of. It is our view that there is room for everybody and the competition will be good for consumers.”

But Mr Dransfield said councillors should not be swayed by the argument the development would help Fletchers, which was partially destroyed by fire in 2006.

He said: “Fletchers received £33.5m to repair that factory. This is a company that is 80% owned by venture capitalists in Luxembourg. The £15m that is coming from Sainsbury’s will not be coming to this city.”

Fletchers director Steve Boyd said all the money would go towards modernising the remaining bakery buildings. “There will be no asset stripping, there will be no dividends or payments to shareholders.”

Any money left over would go to pay the company’s “substantial debts”, he added. “In recent years we have experienced some tough times. This investment will secure our future in Sheffield. This plan is the only saleable asset we have.”

Local residents were divided. Neighbour Ken Reaney told the planning committee: “This will bring a lift to the area, which it needs. This is a wonderful, modern good-looking store.”

Most councillors said the project would bring much-needed jobs and regeneration.

But Lib Dems Arthur Dunworth, Jack Clarkson and Trevor Bagshaw were worried about the impact on small businesses.

Coun Dunworth said: “Hillsborough is the fifth largest shopping district in South Yorkshire, after Sheffield city centre, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley.

“The risk that we are taking here is so massive that if we get it wrong it could really screw up Hillsborough. When all is said and done it’s too big a risk to take.”