A huge new Sainsbury’s store in Aylesbury has moved a step closer after planning officials recommended the scheme be approved.
Councillors at Aylesbury Vale District Council will decide on the Gatehouse Road proposals on Wednesday but planning officals have told them they consider it acceptable despite the scheme being in an out-of-town location.
It is rare but by no means unheard of for the development control committee to go against the planning officer’s recommendation.
The officers also recommended that plans to revamp the existing Sainsbury’s store in Buckingham Street, combined with transforming the old Odeon cinema into retirement flats, be approved.
The new Sainsbury’s in Gatehouse Road, on wasteland literally opposite the council’s headquarters, would cover 12,484 square metres and be more than nine metres tall, have 522 car parking spaces, and be open 24 hours.
To the disappointment of many people, there will be no petrol station.
It would be on two floors, with the main entrance and customer restaurant on the ground floor and the main supermarket on the level above.
If given the go-ahead Gatehouse Road would be widened to provide two lanes in both directions, with new traffic lights at the Gatehouse Way junction giving access.
The scheme also involves the building of 25 flats, all of which will be ‘affordable rented’.
The council received 214 letters from residents backing the scheme.
Only two letters were officially against the proposals – one from Friars Square Shopping Centre claiming it would damage town centre trade and the other from the Berryfields consortium arguing it would harm the viability of a small foodstore planned there.
In her report planning officer Claire Harrison tells councillors that ‘the impact of this large scale superstore could have a significant impact on the town centre through lost trade diversion to an out of centre site’.
She says that without the continued presence of the Sainsbury’s in Buckingham Street, it ‘would have severe and significant consequences on the town’.
As such they are drawing up a legal agreement with Sainsbury’s to commit them to keeping the Buckingham Street store open for at least the next ten years.
The Buckingham Street store would only be revamped once the new Sainsbury’s opens to avoid disruption to the town centre supermarket.
Ms Harrison concludes: “Overall the principle of the foodstore can be supported.”