COMMUNITY representatives celebrating the rejection of expansion plans for Sainsbury’s at Millhouses hope that the verdict will have a knock-on effect for a proposed extension of the nearby Tesco.
A Government planning inspector ruled that the bigger Sainsbury’s would generate too much extra traffic and air pollution – and Millhouses and Carter Knowle Community Group believes the same should apply to the scheme for the Tesco superstore off Abbeydale Road.
The council shelved a decision on Tesco until it knew the result of the three-day Sainsbury’s public inquiry.
It will now make its assessment in the light of the inspector’s findings, with the impact on air pollution now signalled as being highly significant.
Tesco is also expected to examine the report and could amend its plans in an attempt to reduce traffic levels and pollution before asking the council to pass judgement.
For the time being, though, the community group can reflect on its own efforts in collecting air pollution data that helped to persuade inspector Ian Turner to reject Sainbury’s bid to increase retail floor space by 44%, a move that he calculated would increase traffic by 22%.
Local residents spent almost two years pulling a case together, carrying out air pollution monitoring on what they said were already congested roads in the area with the help of the East End Quality of Life initiative and producing results that were presented at the inquiry.
A bigger Tesco could only increase air pollution, they argue, at a time when the city is breaching European guidelines.
“Sheffield failed the European Union test last autumn and it is going to face it again in September,” said Mike Hodson, secretary of Carter Knowle and Millhouses Community Group. “If it fails again, it could be fined.”
Members are taking heart from the conclusion that, despite the desire for economic growth, jobs and increased competition, it must be sustainable and not at the expense of public health.
Mr Turner said: “The potential harm I have identified with regard to the effect of the proposal on local air quality, and consequently human health, is not outweighed by other considerations…”
He said he had taken into account the views of local residents and other interested parties, some supporting the plans, some against it.
“I give little weight to the view of the appellant that the appeal scheme is supported by the silent majority.”
Sainsbury’s application, which included a bigger car park, was supported by council officers, who concluded that issues involving traffic and the impact on nearby shopping centre had been addressed, but they were overruled by councillors who were concerned about air quality.
The supermarket chain, which launched a public consultation programme to explain its proposals, said it wanted to offer a wider choice to customers, especially in non-food goods.