THE supermarket row in Shipston reignited this week when an appeal was lodged against Stratford District Council’s decision to reject it.
The controversial plan gripped the town for over a year before it was thrown out at a lengthy and heated meeting in January.
On Tuesday, developers Ainscough Strategic Land confirmed they had indeed appealed the decision, like many expected them to.
Five hundred people signed a petition backing the supermarket on land off Campden Road, and John Brooks, planning director at Ainscough, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from the local community, and were very disappointed to see the application rejected.”
Over 200 full and part-time jobs would be created, he said, confirming Ainscough’s commitment to developing the site.
Earlier this year, hundreds of people with a mixture of pro and anti-supermarket signs packed into Shipston High School. They watched a Stratford District Council planning committee unanimously reject the plan to build a supermarket, a petrol station, 54 houses, and a retirement development of 130 homes on land off Campden Road.
On that night Jeff Kenner, the fervently pro-supermarket Labour district councillor for Shipston, ominously said: “If you reject it, it will be upheld on appeal.”
“Delighted” with this week’s news, he warned: “If the council decides to defend the appeal it will incur substantial costs at the taxpayer’s expense.”
Cllr Kenner, who was voted onto the council last November because of his pro-supermarket position reckons the decision to appeal has “undoubtedly” been influenced by the huge amount of local support for the proposal.
However, at the meeting, there were more ‘no’ signs than ‘yes’ signs, and the town appears to be split down the middle with no obvious sway either way.
Both the pro ‘Shipston Needs a Supermarket’ (SNAS) group, and the anti ‘Shipston Heart Alive Campaign’ (SHAC) claim a majority.
William Trevethick, chairman of SHAC, was unsurprised the developers had appealed. “Our position hasn’t changed,” he said. “We remain opposed to this application, which we consider to be the wrong development in the wrong place.”
He said the town centre could lose between 60-90 per cent of trade, and that 130 extra-care homes would put a huge and uncontrollable strain on the town’s medical services.
“This is simply not sustainable to the life of the town,” he said.
Cllr Kenner disagrees, and reckons the town centre could tap into the market of an estimated 7,000 new customers coming to Shipston each year because of the supermarket.
He said: “With local jobs being lost in the town, such as those under threat at Turbine Blading, it would provide a huge boost to the local economy if this development is given the go ahead and it would also be a massive vote of confidence in the people of Shipston.”
The appeal has gone to the government’s planning inspectorate, which is yet to set a date for the hearing, but it is expected to be within ten to 20 weeks.
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