Councillors vote against Sainbury’s plan for Oakham

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Oakham town councillors have voted unanimously to oppose plans to build a Sainsbury’s supermarket 
in Oakham.

The firm wants to build a 28,000 sq ft store on the former Rutland County College site in Barleythorpe Road and has submitted a planning application to Rutland County Council.

The plans include a customer cafe, cash machine, and 267 parking spaces. The store would create 250 jobs.

Access to the new supermarket would be from a new roundabout at the junction of Barleythorpe Road and Lands’ End Way, while a zebra crossing would be installed in Lands’ End Way.

On Wednesday Oakham Town Council’s planning and parks committee discussed the plans and voted to recommend refusal to Rutland County Council.

The committee also voted to send a councillor to speak at the county council’s development, control and licensing committee meeting when the application is discussed.

Mayor of Oakham Alf Dewis said: “My main cause for concern is traffic management around the site.

“The new roundabout appears to be fairly small considering the amount of traffic.

“Together with traffic coming down from the Hawksmead estate I foresee this could cause a massive backlog, especially with delivery lorries.

“I think the roundabout should be a lot larger.”

Coun Rob Guthrie echoed Coun Dewis’ concerns, adding: “It is outside the town centre and would be to the detriment of all the other businesses.

“It doesn’t make any contribution to the range of quality shops in Oakham, just duplicates what is already there.”

Coun Peter Lockett said: “If the plan goes ahead in the face of what I suspect is going to be massive opposition, might I suggest that the county council apply to national bodies to see if we can get started on some form of rail bridge to eliminate the crossing?

“It is going to take a long time and a lot of money but we have got to make a start on it because we are going to have traffic problems.”

Coun Joyce Lucas said the council should keep an eye on landscaping around the site to ensure healthy, mature trees are not removed. She also asked that the zebra crossing in Lands’ End Way be upgraded to a pelican crossing.

And committee chairman Adam Lowe said allotment holders in Lands’ End Way were worried about surface water from the Sainsbury’s site and asked if there was adequate drainage.

The council will now send its recommendation for refusal to the county council.

This is Sainsbury’s second bid to open a store in Oakham. The first, for a 30,000 sq ft store and petrol station on land near the bypass, was turned down because county councillors felt it was too far from the town centre and the land had been designated for employment use.

Waitrose was previously looking to build a store on the college site but talks with owners Tresham broke down.

The Sainsbury’s store would sell a wide range of food products and some non-food items, likely to include children’s clothes.

There would also be improved access to Lonsdale House, which is still owned by Tresham.