Sainsbury Local Store at Deen’s Garage Site on Walton Road
The Planning Inspector has allowed the Sainsbury’s Local Store planning appeal. This means that J Sainsbury plc will be permitted to build the store despite the strong opposition of local traders and residents and the universal opposition of all 10 Councillors on the North Area Planning Sub-committee. In spite of a strong case being made by Cllr Ian Donaldson and other members of the MRA, and the strongly expressed wishes of local residents, traders and councillors.
The reasons for the Inspector’s decision to approve, hinges on the definition of what constitutes a defined shopping centre. Although West Molesey has a larger population than East Molesey it has no defined shopping centres at all whereas East Molesey has two defined shopping centres. Neither, the Tesco at Hurst Park, The West Molesey parade on the corner of High St and Walton Road, The Lord Hotham parade, The Central Avenue parade, or the small supermarket on Pool Rd are defined shopping centres. The Inspector notes that “It is also important to underline that groups of local shops such as [those described above] and individual businesses do not enjoy planning policy protection akin to that afforded to defined centres”.
This was challenged at the hearing as being a matter of semantics rather than a matter of practicality and reality but the Inspector does not accept that view.
At the hearing the MRA also criticised the selection of very small and impractical shop units J Sainsbury plc had put forward in their sequential assessment of alternative sites, however the Inspector states that: “I note that the officers had previously accepted the assessment as complying with the national guidance and I have seen no evidence to the contrary”.