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Where are we now? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 20:47

It is now October 2014 and it is interesting that the previous front page, posted here as long ago as Wednesday, 11 July 2012 opened with the words: “We are aware that there is considerable interest in the reasons why Sainsbury’s have not yet started work on the Abbey Mill site.”

At that time we explained that it was because… Read more…


But now we are in Autumn 2014… and still there is no sign of construction starting.


Sainsbury’s own explanation: Over the last 18 months, Sainsbury’s have explained the inaction by protesting that they have much to do before they can start.


In the spring/early summer of 2013 a reported conversation with Sainsbury’s suggested that the project was on hold and that the decision whether or not to proceed would be reviewed in spring 2014. This was probably an indiscretion.

In August 2013 they issued a more detailed statement… Read more…


Most recently, in July 2014, in response to a specific enquiry, Sainsbury’s explained their two months newt capturing programme. Read more…


Wider background…

All of this should be seen in the context of current market conditions.

In November 2013, Sainsbury’s announced that they would no longer go ahead with 15-20 stores, for which they had already received planning permission – a request to know if the Bishop’s Waltham site was one of these was rejected on the grounds of commercial sensitivity.


In May 2014, Sainsbury’s stopped work on its Wadebridge store in Cornwall, after work had started on it in March… Read more…


Sainsbury’s sales for Q2 in 2014 were 1.1% down. But the split was significant:

Convenience (smaller high street stores)     +18%

Online sales                                             +10%

Supermarket sales                                     - 3%


The changing pattern is evident.


In July, Justin King left Sainsbury’s after 10 years at the head of the company. Mike Coupe, previously Sainsbury's group commercial director, succeeded him as chief executive.


Meanwhile, elsewhere…

 

In June IGD, the industry body, published its forecasts for the UK grocery industry for the next 5 years. It said that the three fast growth channels of online, discount and convenience stores would account for 110% of the cash growth in the market, with shoppers increasingly using these channels in addition to or instead of larger format stores. Read more…

In June Netto, a discount supermarket chain owned by Dutch company Dansk Supermarked, announced a joint venture with Sainsbury’s. They plan to open 15 new stores in an area within 120 miles radius of Leeds. In July it was announced that Sainsbury’s would convert some space in one or two of its supermarkets for Netto to open a store – with a separate entrance.

Tesco has also recently made some big decisions – to build houses on land earmarked for supermarkets, to change its chief executive and to drop its plans for a superstore in Romsey. Read more…


So…


Everything in the environment identifies big shifts in the grocery market in the 6 years since Sainsbury’s came up with their plan for Bishop’s Waltham in 2008 (news first leaked out in January 2009).

The long delays in starting work here and the cessation of construction at Wadebridge suggest that a significant review is under way. It would be normal for a new chief executive to allow a decent period to pass before announcing big changes.

With their planning permission expiring this December, we would expect an announcement, one way or another, after the newt re-location exercise – so, in October or November.

All this may be a triumph of hope over experience, but hope does spring eternal!

 

Read more 1

At that time we explained that it was because of a proposed Department of Transport Stopping-up Order for Station Road. In March John Hayter, a Bishop’s Waltham resident, had filed his objection to this Order and in June the Department of Transport announced that a Public Local Inquiry would be held.

This was held in Winchester in October 2012 and the result – that the Order could, after all, go ahead – was published in January 2013.

Since the planning conditions attached to Sainsbury’s planning permission require that development could not start until the Order was approved, the earliest Sainsbury’s could have begun their construction work was in early 2013.

 

Read more 2

In August 2013 they issued a more detailed statement: “Sainsbury’s remains committed to its plans for Bishop’s Waltham and is currently undertaking a number of technical surveys on the Abbey Mill site. The surveys are required to finalise a detailed construction programme for the new store and to discharge the various pre-commencement planning conditions associated with the planning permission.

A start date for the construction of the new store cannot be confirmed until the technical surveys are completed and the pre-commencement planning conditions are discharged. It is anticipated that the surveys and the associated work will be completed towards the end of the year [2013]. Once the surveys are completed Sainsbury’s will update the local community.”

In a similar form of words to those used earlier, in April 2014 Sainsbury’s responded to an enquiry stating that they had “been progressing technical surveys to inform the detailed construction programme for the new store and to help discharge relevant pre-commencement planning conditions before work can start on the site.”

  

Read more 2A

Most recently, in July 2014, in response to a specific enquiry, Sainsbury’s explained their two months newt capturing programme. “There will shortly be activity taking place on the former Abbey Mill site, to discharge some ecology planning conditions related to our planning permission. It is anticipated that the work is likely to commence on Monday, 28 July.”

The work involves capturing newts and relocating them. Sainsbury’s have been issued a licence by Natural England to complete this work at the site. The licence requires the newt trapping to be undertaken for a period of approximately 60 continuous days.

Sainsbury’s added that: “These works, and a series of additional planning conditions, need to be discharged before a programme of works can be confirmed. As such, a start date for our Bishop’s Waltham scheme cannot be confirmed at this stage, but we will make a further announcement on our plans as soon as possible.”

It is clear that this 60 day period runs to the end of September, with the current planning permission expiring in December 2014.

  

Read more 3

In May 2014, Sainsbury’s stopped work on its Wadebridge store in Cornwall, after work had started on it in March. The Cornish Guardian reported that, “Sainsbury’s said today the Wadebridge store was one of a number it had decided not to build at this time.” A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told the Guardian that: “We can confirm that work on our planned Wadebridge store will not be completed this year. Over the coming weeks we will complete site work and make the area safe and secure. We recently announced a small reduction in the number of new stores to be built in 2014 and have with regret decided not to progress plans.” (http://www.cornishguardian.co.uk/Shock-Sainsbury-s-calls-halt-new-Wadebridge-store/story-21115744-detail/story.html)

This is clearly a sleight of hand (or an awful corporate error) because there is no way that they would have started work on a store that had already been identified in the previous November as no longer needed. So a further review must have been underway – and stopping a store after construction has started suggests a significant review at that!

 

Read more 4

The Telegraph commented that: “sales from superstores and hypermarkets will fall by 4pc over the next five years despite a 16pc rise in overall grocery sales. Sales from discount chains such as Aldi and Lidl are forecast to double over the five years – giving them a 10.5pc share of the grocery market compared to 6.2pc at present. By 2019, therefore, they could account for £1 in every £9 spent on groceries in the UK.

Meanwhile, online sales will grow 119pc and convenience stores such as Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local will increase by a third, according to IGD. This means that, for the first time, sales from convenience stores, discounters and the internet will overtake superstores and hypermarkets by April 2019.”

 

Read more 5

Tesco has also recently made some big decisions – to build houses on land earmarked for supermarkets, to change its chief executive and to drop its plans for a superstore in Romsey.

In July Tesco, who have one of the largest ‘land banks’ in the UK, announced that instead of building supermarkets on some of its land it would instead be building 4,000 new homes. A Tesco spokesperson said: "In response to changing customer shopping habits we have decided to reduce the amount of new store space we build each year, building fewer large stores. Where we no longer intend to develop sites, we sell them, lease them or develop them for housing.

Also in July, Tesco’s chief executive Philip Clarke left the company after a further drop in sales. Mr Clarke had been chief executive of Tesco since 2011, but has overseen three years of declining sales since replacing Sir Terry Leahy.

On August 21st, Tesco announced that it would no longer go ahead with its planned superstore in Romsey. Tesco regional corporate affairs manager Jack Pearson told the Daily Echo: “As we announced earlier this year we are building fewer large stores. Customers are increasingly shopping online and in convenience stores and we have reconsidered our proposal in the light of these changing habits… We will continue to serve our customers in Romsey through our home delivery service and from our other local stores.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 October 2014 20:01
 
Plannng Update PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 03:30

We are aware that there is considerable interest in the reasons why Sainsbury’s have not yet started work on the Abbey Mill site. We hope this newsletter will provide you with some factual information.

• ‘Stopping up’ Station Road

• Audit commission and Winchester City Council

Many of you will know, or know of, John Hayter who throughout the last three years has fought his own battle to stop Sainsbury’s as an ‘outrider’ to the main campaign. Well, he has continued his activities and the following is an update on where he has got to...

‘Stopping up’ Station Road


As mentioned in Newsletter 34 (end March), in late February, the Secretary of State for the Department of Transport published a notice that she proposed to issue an order (under section 247 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) to stop up a length of Station Road. Anyone wishing to object had 28 days within which to do so. The notice highlighted the fact that the stopping up order would only be authorised to enable the development that had been granted planning permission under reference 10/01650/FUL (Sainsbury’s Superstore). The proposed Order comprises the whole of Station Road and the B2177 crossing but does not extend into St George's Square. Objections could only be to this part of the permission, not the permission itself.

On 21st March John Hayter filed his objection to the Section 247 order with the Department of Transport (this is the objection mentioned in Newsletter 34).

The affected areas are the pedestrianised “Public Realm” or “Plaza” between the superstore and South Pond and the changes to Station Road where it meets the B2177 including the proposed Tucan crossing. This “Linkage Strategy” was designed to encourage Sainsbury’s customers to also visit and spend money in the town centre as a means of partially offsetting the trade the High Street is expected to lose. The plans rely on segregation of pedestrians and cyclists from traffic and landscaping to tempt shoppers to walk between the store and the town centre. Initial plans were judged by the Hampshire Architects' panel and Hampshire County Council’s Highways department as insufficiently effective and likely to create traffic problems. Some changes were made at which point HCC Highways gave their support to the proposals. The Station Road changes are thus a key element in the planning permission.

As a result of John Hayter’s objections to the proposed Station Road highway changes, and following a number of exchanges of letters with Sainsbury’s Transport Planning Consultants and Sainsbury’s solicitors, the Department of Transport announced on 27th June that a Public Local Inquiry is to be held at a date and place not yet announced.

The planning conditions attached to Sainsbury’s planning permission require that development cannot start until the Order is approved. Hence the absence of any start yet being made to the development of the site. The timescale for when the Inquiry may be held is unknown.

Audit commission and Winchester City Council


John Hayter has also been active highlighting to the relevant authorities that, in his view, some of the Section 106 agreements between Sainsbury’s and Winchester City Council (WCC), involving payments totalling £248,124, are unlawful under Circular 05/2005 relating to the Town and Country Planning Act (1990).

We understand that as a result, the Audit Commission’s appointed auditor for WCC is to investigate these potential payments due to be paid by Sainsbury’s under the Section 106 agreement. The details of the Section 106 agreement were detailed in Newsletter 34 (end March).

We also understand that this stage is reached only after an elector has made a written objection sufficiently sound to persuade the auditor to exercise his discretion to require WCC to justify their actions.

We gather that the possible outcomes, in descending order of severity are:


• Application by the Auditor to the Courts for a declaration that items are unlawful.
• An Immediate Report in the public interest without waiting for completion of the audit
• A report in the public interest on completion of the audit that is usually around December. 
• A mention (or not) in the usual audit report.


We understand that, in the public interest, in terms of cost, the Auditor would only go to the Courts if he could not otherwise persuade WCC to take requisite actions with the same effect. Public Interest reports have to be responded to by WCC and usually contain recommended actions. The outcomes could make it necessary or expedient for WCC to reconsider the decision in whole or part. Although neither the Courts, the Auditor nor WCC Cabinet can direct what the Planning Development Control Committee's decision should be, what the Courts and/or auditor say would become a "material planning consideration" in reaching their decision.

It should be underlined that this is an audit of WCC, not Sainsbury’s, and as in all such cases there is no guarantee of any particular outcome.

In any event Sainsbury’s cannot start work until the outcome of John Hayter's Section 247 objections (see above) to the Station Road changes is known."

We hope this provides you with information on the most recent developments. We’ll be in touch with additional news and information shortly.

 
The Final Stages PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 24 February 2012 20:58
  • Winchester City Council issued written planning permission on 1st December 2011
  • Sainsbury’s say they hope to open their Bishops Waltham superstore in Spring 2013
  • Work on the Abbey Mill site is quite likely to start in March 2012

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON?

We have just sent out an extensive email covering events over recent months – it runs to 7 pages and can be downloaded here, it covers events since May 2011.

In the email and its attachment we mention two letters – our final attempt to get the Planning Committee reconvened, and the stonewall response by WCC! These can be downloaded/read here: BWAG’s letter, WCC’s response.

 

The final documents

The written planning permission (called a Decision Notice) and the Section 106 agreement (the legal agreement) between them cover the contributions that Sainsbury’s will make to various funds (for example: £75,000 for town centre improvements – to be agreed with the Parish Council – and over £200,000 to improve St George’s Square). They also cover the agreement not to open a Pharmacy, Post Office, Dry Cleaning and Café, and they define the specific opening and delivery hours and makes further reference to proposed changes to the B2177 Winchester Road. Clearly, there are elements here that will require continuing vigilance – see below the Portswood situation covered below.

These two documents can be downloaded from these links:

 

Planning Permission: http://planningapplications.winchester.gov.uk/Planning/969672.pdf

 

Section 106 Agreement (over 100 pages long):

http://planningapplications.winchester.gov.uk/Planning/985450.pdf

 

What of BWAG now?

After the written permission was granted in December, we contemplated shutting down BWAG in the near term, but developments at Sainsbury’s Portswood superstore have changed our minds. As you may know Sainsbury’s are currently building a 4,465 square metres (net retail space) superstore in central Portswood and now, while building is still continuing they have already applied for changes to the conditions! They want:

  • To extend agreed opening hours of 8am-9pm Monday to Saturday to 7am-11pm instead
  • To open the car park Monday to Saturday from 6.30am-midnight (half an hour before and an hour after the store would shut)
  • To change current delivery time restrictions from 7am -11pm Mondays to Saturdays, to allow three deliveries to be received (or items despatched from the store) between the hours of 11pm-7am Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, instead of delivery being restricted to 8am-6pm, Sainsbury’s want to be able to make two deliveries after 6pm.
  • They also want to have the restriction lifted that prevents them opening an in-store pharmacy!

It is just so brazen to agree such core conditions in order to get permission, only then to apply for major changes even before the store is built. So BWAG will stay in place to do whatever it can to stop similar attempts here. We may not now be able to stop Sainsbury’s coming, but we can do our best to stop such flagrant, barefaced behaviour.

 

A potted history timeline

Because a lot of time has passed, we thought at this stage it would be worth time-lining some of the important dates in a quick recap:

 

2009

January – news seeps out that Sainsbury’s plan a superstore at Abbey Mill

May – Parish Council public meeting, BWAG formed

May – December, BWAG raises funds, lobbies and issues newsletters etc

 

2010

12 May – Bishops Waltham Surgery announce plans to relocate to Sainsbury’s site

29 June – Sainsbury’s submit planning application to Winchester City Council (WCC)

19 July – BWAG’s first leaflet and letter mailed to local residents

27 July – Sainsbury’s supporters’ group (BWAV) formed with Sainsbury’s support

30 July – BWAG hands in 4,500 signature petition to Leader of WCC

5 August – Initial deadline for letters of representation to WCC about application

5 August – Just under 2,000 letters of objection personally sent to WCC by deadline

6 August – Deadline initially extended to allow BW Parish Council to debate and vote

12 August – BW Parish Council objects to Sainsbury’s proposals and informs WCC

Mid August – WCC indicate they will be prepared to receive additional letters

Late November – Bishops Waltham Surgery writes to all it patients asking for support for Sainsbury’s proposals and the new surgery

 

2011

16 January – BWAV, sponsored by Sainsbury’s, conduct mass-mailing to gain support

19 January – BWAV and Surgery staff deliver 2,700 pro forma letters to WCC

February – Date for Planning Meeting on Sainsbury’s confirmed as 7th April

February – BWAV deliver a further 2,000+ pro forma letters to WCC from their own mailing

15 March – BWAG’s second leaflet and letter to local residents mailed

30 March – WCC planners report published recommending approval of Sainsbury’s application

7 April – WCC Planning Committee votes 5-4 (by chairman’s 2nd vote) to approve application

15 April – WCC submit their approval to Dept for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

5 May – BWAG submits arguments for calling-in application alongside a new 3,000+ petition

5 May – DCLG confirms to WCC that it will not call-in the application

13 May – BWAG’s last newsletter (No 32) sent explaining situation

24 November – Section 106 Agreement signed by Sainsbury’s and WCC

1 December – Written Planning Permission issued

 

Thank You

We really would like to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped in this campaign. You are too numerous to mention but, in no particular order...

 

Thanks to everyone – 4,500 of you – who signed Pete Atkinson’s original petition.

Thanks to all of you who wrote such heartfelt letters to WCC – all 2,450 of you! Amazing!

Thanks again to everyone – 3,025 of you – who signed our last petition to Eric Pickles, an awesome number in just 12 days!

Thanks to everyone who volunteered to help, including distributing leaflets and flyers – simply invaluable.

Thanks to the many, many people who gave us donations, the campaign has cost many thousands of pounds and would have been impossible without that help. Thanks also to everyone who put money into our collection pots – it really helped.

Thanks to so many of you who contacted us with ideas, with offers of help, with news, with their recollections of the WCC Planning meeting etc.

Thanks to people, like Print It Now, who provided their services free or at cost.

Thanks to everyone who agreed to have a poster in their garden.

Thanks to everyone on the High Street who put up our posters, provided space to distribute our newsletters and persuaded people to sign the petitions.

Thanks to everyone who turned out for the Parish Council meeting in the Jubilee Hall in August 2010.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Guildhall for the handing in of the first petition in July 2010

Thanks to the 400 and more who attended the planning meeting itself in April 2011

Thanks to those, like John Hayter and Peter Stevens who acted as outriders to our main campaign and constantly nagged and harassed WCC and Sainsbury’s agents whenever the opportunity arose.

Thanks for reading our newsletters and staying in touch with us.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 February 2012 20:44