Store plan is thrown out

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A SUPERMARKET chain says it remains committed to building a store in Oakham after its plans were rejected by Rutland County Council on Monday.

Sainsbury’s had applied to build the 30,000 sq ft store on the corner of Lands’ End Way and Burley Park Way creating 300 jobs, but it was rejected by the council, 10 votes to eight.

Councillors said it was too far away from the town centre, and that the council felt there were better locations to build a store in the future.

The land has also been earmarked by the council for offices and warehousing to create employment over the next 15 to 20 years.

The plans were rejected by the development control and licensing committee last month, but were sent to full council for reconsideration.

The council offices in Catmose, Oakham, were once again packed with members of the public who were supporting the plans.

Sainsbury’s regional development executive Robert Oxley said: “We are extremely disappointed with the decision, which has come about despite overwhelming public support and what we feel are flawed reasons for refusal.

“The business and employment allocation of the site has been in place for over 10 years without any progressive interest from developers, whilst the other sites in the town would have an adverse affect on traffic flow and are not big enough for a store to meet the main food-shopping needs of the community.

“However, we remain committed to Oakham and will now consider our options.”

Councillors felt a shop on the site would impact too much on the town centre.

Coun Peter Golden (Lib Dem) said: “This application is clearly contrary to local and national policies.

“Its supporters highlight the jobs that might be created but that is only a benefit to the county if a similar number of jobs is not lost in the town centre in coffee shops, clothes shops, even supermarkets.”

Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “Do we need more employment? Yes. Do we want competition? You bet. Do we want another petrol station? Yes. But at what cost?

“A lot of the people looking for jobs in the county are skilled and they are skilled jobs that Sainsbury’s won’t provide.”

Coun Richard Gale (Ind) and Coun Mark Oxley both voted in favour of Sainsbury’s

Coun Gale said: “This land is for 500 office jobs when the trend at the moment is to work from home. And we may have to wait 20 years.

“We need to get real. We don’t want to throw away 300 jobs. The community supports this.”

Coun Oxley said: “Over 150 letters have been received in support of this which is astonishing.

“It’s a facility that is needed in this county and that’s why people are making such a fuss about it. People of Rutland want this.”

The land is owned by Hawksmead and is part of the Oakham North development which will see 1,100 homes built there in the next 15 years.

Hawksmead strategic projects director at Paul Bywater said: “The majority of the residents of Oakham and elsewhere in Rutland must feel let down by this decision.

“The need for a supermarket in this location was clearly identified in the public consultations that took place during 2008 and 2009. We were therefore delighted when Sainsbury’s came forward to fulfil that demand.

“The council’s decision has not only lost the 300 jobs at the Sainsbury’s store but also the further 75 skilled jobs at the employment units that were to be built alongside Sainsbury’s.

“These jobs could have been available within a few months. The decision has also meant the loss of the opportunity to kick start the development of the employment land.”

Waitrose wants to open a store on the Rutland County College site in Barleythorpe Road.