Councillors urged to approve Morrisons’ plans for out-of-town retail park in Stamford

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AN out-of-town shopping complex next to the Morrisons supermarket in Stamford looks set to be approved after four years of planning.

Six shops and a pub-restaurant would be built on the site of the former Mirrlees Blackstone factory in Uffington Road.

Business and retails chiefs have opposed the plans, saying the complex would hit trade in Stamford town centre.

But members of South Kesteven District Council’s planning officers are recommending that councillors on the development control committee approve the shops scheme at meeting on Tuesday.

A date for the committee to consider the pub-restaurant application has not yet been set.

Morrisons has not confirmed which brands would fill the new shops, but says up to 45 jobs could be created.

Members of the public were invited to have their say on the plans at an exhibition last September. About 85 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of the retail park, with only 8.6 per cent against.

The chain first submitted an application for the retail park and pub-restaurant, plus a JJB fitness centre, in 2006.

It was approved by the district council in July, 2008. But the permission was quashed by a High Court judge in July, 2009, after Stamford Chamber of Trade and Commerce and 
FH Gilman and Co objected to the development, saying it would hit town centre trade.

Mr Justice Andrew Collins said at the time that the council had made errors in dealing with issues on public transport and setting a floorspace limit on the sale of “non-bulky comparison goods”, such as such as clothing, toys, books, pet products and soft furnishings, at the development.

The sale of smaller goods would be more likely to have an adverse impact on town centre shops than the sale of bulky goods including fridge-freezers and washing machines, he said.

The application has been amended since the High Court decision. Morrisons has reduced the floorspace of the units and taken out the fitness centre.

The amount of floorspace dedicated to non-bulky items has also been reduced.

Both the chamber of trade and FH Gilman and Co have objections to the plans listed on the report to the council, saying that the new shops would affect the “viability and vitality” of Stamford town centre.

They also say the retail park would prejudice the creation of a relief road to the east of Stamford, which has been a subject of discussion in the town for many years with little progress.

But in recommending the plans for approval, the planning officers’ report says the objections raised are not strong enough to turn down the application.

The report says: “A retail impact assessment and a transport assessment have been submitted in support of the application and it is considered that these demonstrate that the development, subject to conditions, would not have a significant adverse impact on Stamford town centre or highway safety.”