THE controversy over Sainsbury’s ambitions to extend its superstore at Millhouses is to be settled by a Government inspector.
After councillors rejected a scheme last August to increase the size of the Archer Road premises by 40% the company has decided to appeal, which will lead to a public inquiry.
All sides will have the chance to put their case at a hearing at the town hall. No date has been arranged so far, although it is unlikely to be for at least four months.
Sainsbury’s exercised its right to appeal within six months after seeing their 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.
Councillors gave their verdict amid widespread community opposition to the proposed expansion, not only on traffic and pollution grounds but also including 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”.
At the same time the supermarket giant can point to local politicians over-ruling 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.
Residents’ fears were heightened as a result of Tesco submitting a scheme almost doubling the size of its store off Abbeydale Road South, at the other side of the rail tracks to Sainsbury’s.
Critics warned of the combined effect of a bigger Tesco and Sainsbury’s. The council is nearing a decision on the Tesco application, which will take into account the issues of traffic and air pollution raised in the Sainsbury’s decision. An additional factor will be Tesco’s offer to extend the park and ride scheme at Abbeydale Road South.
Meanwhile the council is continuing to assess the implications of Sainsbury’s application for a store next to Fletcher’s Bakery at Wadsley Bridge, which has divided the community.
While some residents welcome the prospect of the jobs and extra choice, others are making clear their opposition on the grounds of worsening traffic and the impact on local shops.