Sainsbury’s megastore gets the go-ahead
After years of uncertainty, campaigners who wanted to block the plan were left disappointed after it was decided to approve the plan which will see the supermarket and petrol station take over the current Homebase site.
The Secretary of State confirmed that the appeal by Sainsbury’s was considered in excruciating detail and found that the loss of a supermarket on Lord Street in lieu of the new megastore would be of inconsequential impact.
It’s thought that once the new Meols Cop development opens, the Lord Street Sainsbury’s would close down and staff be transferred to the new build.
A spokesperson for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said: “ In reaching his decision, the Secretary of State has had regard to section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 which requires that proposals be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
“The Secretary of State agrees that Southport town centre should be the focus of the impact assessment. He agrees with the Inspector that Southport is a relatively vital and viable centre, although suffering from a number of weaknesses.
“He further agrees that a conclusion that the town centre is undergoing a spiral of decline and deterioration is not supported by the evidence and is unreasonably pessimistic.
“The Secretary of State agrees that there is no evidence that the occupation of the site at Lord Street would be influenced by the application scheme.
“He further agrees that the application proposal has not had a negative effect on the potential investor in the site at Cambridge Road. For the reasons given he agrees that the proposal has not deflected investment from the premises at Tulketh Street, and that there is no evidence that any other development sites would be put in jeopardy by the proposal.”
The original plan was put to Sefton Council two years ago but after complaints from residents and MP John Pugh, it went to the Planning Inspectorate.
Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has now ruled in favour of Sainsbury’s.
The supermarket will be 60,000ft in size, will have a car park with 532 spaces, will have a 12 pump petrol station and is estimated to create around 400 new jobs.
But MP John Pugh claims it will have a negative impact on Southport’s town centre.
He said: “However way you cut it this is bad news for the town centre. I think there is a staggering complacency in the government’s response.
“It’s one area I would love to be proved wrong but I fear the council and now the government are sacrificing Lord Street so that we can have yet another out of town supermarkets selling a lot more than food.
“People should read the predictions in the report and re-visit them five years down the line if this mega-store gets built. Big hypermarkets are not the future in an online world.
“Those of us who see the clear and present danger to the town centre employed every available argument but without the support of the Business Improvement District or Sefton Council it was an uphill battle. The big battalions have won and the small trader will be the one to suffer.”
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