The Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP has decided not to exercise his power to “call in” the latest Sainsbury application for an out of town supermarket at Meols Cop despite requests from opponents of the development that he should do so. A previous application by Sainsburys for an even bigger store was called in by the Coalition government leading to a public enquiry. The latest application was referred to the Secretary of State by resolution of the Sefton Planning Committee.
Cllr. John Pugh, a long time opponent of the scheme was told by government officials that they “understand there will be great disappointment as a result’ , but that Mr Jenrick “ is satisfied that the application should be determined at local level “
Cllr Pugh said, “I did not expect a second enquiry even though the Secretary of State has a somewhat controversial record of overruling local councils. I did though want to put on record the risks this development presents and sent through to the government a link to the latest town centre Health Check.
“This shows that the town centre vacancy rate is already double the national average.”
He added, “An out of town development necessarily impacts on town centre trade and will eventually lead to the departure of Sainsbury’s from Lord St.
However, it has seemed to me at times as though this planning issue has become a battle of wills where nothing could happen that would change the Council’s mind.
Personally, however, I would sooner my fears for the future would turn to be groundless. Unfortunately though, since my initial objections the situation in the town centre has got dramatically worse and there are still unexplored uncertainties about the traffic impact at Meols Cop.”