Sainsbury’s given go-ahead to open store in Oakham

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Sainsbury’s has been given permission to open a store in Oakham, which will create 250 jobs.

The firm will build a 50,000 sq ft store on the former Rutland County College site in Barleythorpe Road after county councillors unanimously approved the plans at a development control and licensing committee meeting last night (Monday).

The store will have a 267-space car park, a customer cafe, recycling centre and cash machine on the 4.7 acre site. The customer entrance will be accessed from a new roundabout at the junction of the Barleythorpe Road and Lands’ End Way.

Councillors agreed the store would bring a boost to employment, greater choice for shoppers and strengthen the town centre.

Coun Richard Gale (Ind) said: “I’ve received many, many letters of support for this application and I myself fully support it.

“It will provide a real choice for people in Oakham and healthy competition for other stores.

“The site is close and accessible from the town centre and I believe the plans should be approved.”

Coun Mark Woodcock (Ind) said: “I welcome this proposal. It has lots to offer as it will attract employment and attract shoppers. The development will strengthen the town centre.”

Coun Edward Baines (Con), who is vice-chairman of the committee, said: “The application has had considerable support from the community and there has been a lack of objection, especially from those living in houses nearby.”

Prior to the meeting, the plans were recommended for approval in a report by the council’s planning officers, who said that the development would not have a significant detrimental impact on Oakham or Uppingham town centres and that there was a need for an additional foodstore to improve consumer choice.

Conditions attached to the planning consent include the firm providing a £750,000 contribution for highways improvements to the area, creating footpaths and cycle lanes to and from the site and a pedestrian crossing in Barleythorpe Road. Sainsbury’s will contribution towards an alternative sports facility as the sports hall at the site will be demolished. There will have to be a 80/20 per cent split of floorspace for convenience goods, which include food items, and goods such as clothes and electrical items, to limit the impact on town centre shops. Most of the trees on the border of the site will be retained and customers will be allowed to park for free for up to three hours to allow time for shoppers to walk to the town centre.

Lonsdale House, which lies next to the development site, will be retained and a new entrance from Barleythorpe Road will be created.

Concerns were raised that the store could lead to traffic congestion.

Coun Marc Oxley (Lib Dem) said: “It’s a very busy junction already and will become more congested following the developments.

“The issue shouldn’t give grounds for refusal but I think if Lands’ End Way could be widened it would be better for Oakham.”

Sainsbury’s first bid to open a store in Oakham in 2011 was turned down. The plans included a 30,000 sq ft store and petrol station on land near the bypass but were turned down because county councillors said it was too far from the town centre.

To see Sainsbury’s plans in full, visit www.rutland.gov.uk.