By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Plans for a Sainsbury’s in Southwell are being recommended for a refusal by councillors despite concerns there is “urgent need” for a new supermarket in the town.
Newark and Sherwood District Council will make a final decision on the proposal during its planning meeting on March 16.
The planned development site is made up of 1.6 hectares of grassland off Nottingham Road, Southwell.
The only other supermarket in the town is a Co-op in The Ropewalk, which some residents say has a “monopoly” and is “very expensive”.
But others fear the supermarket would impact on other traders in the town and affect its character.
The development would create 40 jobs and the supermarket would include an Argos click and collect service.
Supporters of the plans said it would “bring Southwell into 21st century”, but objectors said it is the wrong site for a new supermarket.
If built, the Sainsbury’s would open at 7am and close at 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
But the scheme would involve the loss of trees and hedgerows, which has been criticised by oime residents.
Southwell Civic Society says the development “would irreversibly alter the character and identity of the town”.
They raised concerns about highway safety and environmental impacts.
Overall 142 people commented on the plans, 48 of which were objections.
Those supporting the plans said the outlet is “urgently needed” in Southwell and add the supermarket would bring jobs and growth to the area.
They say it is “unreasonable” for residents in Southwell to take long round trips to do a food shop.
“This will bring Southwell into 21st century – why should it have only one supermarket considering the housing growth in the last 20 years,” some supporters of the plans wrote.
But objectors said it was the wrong site for the development and claimed that if the plans are approved it could lead to smaller shops closing as they “can’t compete on price, especially with an Argos”.
Newark and Sherwood District Council’s Tree and Landcape Officer said the impacts of the scheme had been “underestimated”.
They added: “The proposal would result in the loss of important groups of trees/woodland worthy of tree preservation order, a negative impact on visual amenity, character and biodiversity of the town of Southwell and potential destruction of ancient woodland.”
A number of local parish councils also objected, including Halam Parish Council which said “although Southwell needs another supermarket this is not the site for it”.
They added: We support the idea in principle but the location is unacceptable mainly on road safety grounds and erosion of countryside. We would like to see retail development on brownfield sites. There are brownfield sites around Southwell that could be used.”
Council documents stated: “The convenience retail picture in the town is one where there is a lack of choice and competition in the local area, with the evidence showing that people are travelling further afield to undertake main food shopping at larger foodstores.
“Added to the ‘overtrading’ of the Co-op the applicant’s survey findings indicate that there is scope to improve the sustainability of shopping patterns in the catchment.
“The applicant has demonstrated through this application that the retail needs of residents are not currently being met.”
But officers added that they were not satisfied with the environmental impacts of the development and therefore recommended the application for refusal.