SAINSBURY’S could be given the go-ahead next week for a superstore at Wadsley Bridge, despite objections from other supermarket companies and some residents.
Council officers have concluded there are no fundamental reasons for rejecting the scheme for land next to Fletchers Bakeries off Claywheels Lane as long as conditions are attached.
However, it will be for councillors to decide on Tuesday whether to accept or reject the recommendation – and they are under pressure to block Sainsbury’s.
Morrisons, which has a store at Hillsborough, and Asda, which is building a store at the new Chaucer centre in Parson Cross, believe their businesses would pay too high a price.
Asda says: “The council cannot credibly expect major retailers to invest in town and district centres if it then allows others to secure a competitive advantage by building in out-of-centre locations.”
Concerns have also been lodged by Stocksbridge Town Council and Stocksbridge Regeneration Company on the basis that another superstore could hit ambitions for the town.
Residents are split, with 42 letters of objection sent to the town hall and 45 letters of support.
Some people fear the impact on existing shops, claiming there are already enough supermarkets in the area.
The other big issue is traffic, with critics saying roads are already congested at peak times.
Other people welcome the proposed investment, saying it will create an estimated 450 superstore and give the area a lift. Moreover, the scheme is linked to a deal to modernise Fletchers Bakery to secure its long-term future.
Council officers have studied the implications for district shopping centres in Hillsborough, Parson Cross, Stocksbridge, Chapeltown and Spital Hill and for the city centre.
They say: “Whilst the proposal would diminish trade in existing centres, there is insufficient evidence to maintain that the proposed store would be so detrimental in terms of its impact... to warrant a refusal of the application.”
In particular, a council report says: “Although the Morrisons store at Hillsborough would suffer a substantial reduction in its current turnover, it would still be trading at above its company average level, it would be unlikely to close and its turnover is likely to remain enough for it to continue to serve the centre.”
Similarly, officers say traffic issues have been addressed. A new junction is planned on Claywheels Lane for customers using a car park with 460 spaces, the junction with the A61 Penistone Road North would be improved and the Leppings Lane roundabout would be replaced by a signal-controlled junction.
If councillors approve the project, conditions are expected to include an agreement to ensure that the superstore is not opened without the proposed investment in the bakery.
Sainsbury’s would also be asked to pay towards air quality management, minor changes to Claywheels Lane and to give the council the option of buying land within five years for £1 that would allow the widening of Claywheels Lane.
The whole scheme would be passed to the Government for its assessment on whether it complies with planning guidelines.
It involves the demolition of part of the bakery and two pubs – The Travellers and The Gate.
Sainsbury’s held a public exhibition and consultation exercise before submitting the application.