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Decision on plans for Asda store and 350 homes in Barnstaple deferred

By NDJWill  |  Posted: April 11, 2013

  • An artist's impression of how the new ASDA store in Barnstaple may look

  • An artist's impression of how the new ASDA store in Barnstaple may look

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THE old Leaderflush Shapland site will lay vacant for at least another three months, after North Devon Council’s planning committee voted to defer a decision over whether to grant planning permission for a supermarket and 350 homes at the site.

The plans for an Asda, 350 homes, a pub and other retail units was before the council committee, and around 30 members of the public, yesterday afternoon.

It was hoped a decision would be reached after negotiations over how best to develop the site began in November 2009.

However, thanks to a second planning application for a Morrison’s supermarket on land at Evans’ Transport yard, at the other end of the Taw Bridge, the decision was put off.

The plans hadn’t even come up for decision when Tory councillor Jasmine Chesters stood to ask why the two plans were not being looked at together.

Mrs Chesters also complained she hadn’t had time to read the 120 pages of “bumf” which council officers had put forward in a report for members on the application.

She also claimed she and other members of the committee had received letters from solicitors acting on behalf of the developers behind the Morrison’s plan, which threatened a judicial review should the Asda application be granted planning permission.

The council’s legal adviser Ken Miles sought to allay those fears, when he told members he believed the council would be on legally sound footing if it went ahead and determined the application.

Planning manager Keith Bines also weighed in. He said: “We were originally going to consider the two together.

“The reason we aren’t seeing them both together today is Morrison’s pulled out of a Devon County Council Development Management Committee meeting in March.

“But although today’s special meeting was set up to consider both plans we can still proceed as they are separate schemes and aren’t intrinsically linked.”

But Mrs Chesters wasn’t satisfied and moved the decision be deferred.

Councillor Joe Tucker disagreed with the motion. He said: “The legal advice is clear.

“They are separate applications and we should proceed.”

He sought to amend the motion so the application would be determined but that amendment fell 7-4 in a vote. Mrs Chesters motion, supported mainly by Conservative councillors, was passed by the same tally.

After the decision to defer was made Mrs Chesters and two or three other councillors were seen chatting to the owner of the Evans’ transport site, David Evans.

But the general feeling among everyone else in the room was one of frustration, with both supporters and opponents of the scheme upset they will now have to wait until the end of June before the application can come before the planning committee again – unless Asda appeal against the decision.

The retail giants could appeal against the decision on grounds of non-determination, since North Devon Council legally should have made up its mind on the plan by this stage.

The project communication manager for Asda, Lucie Brailsford, said she couldn’t yet indicate whether an appeal would be forthcoming. She said the company will make a statement shortly.

Barnstaple town centre manager Craig Bulley said he wished a decision had been made one way or another.

“I wasn’t quite expecting that,” he said.

“As you know the town centre management are against this scheme and we were all geared up to have our say.

“Now we’ll have to do it all another day.

“It would have been nice to have it sorted, as the uncertainty goes on now, which is frustrating.”

Sue Tucker, who has suffered from spinal muscular atrophy since birth, was also disappointed by the decision.

She has been campaigning for years to secure round the clock specialised toilets for disabled people in Barnstaple.

And Asda had agreed to include such a facility on its site.

“I would have liked to have seen it determined,” she said.

“At the moment people like me are snookered.

“It’s as if North Devon Council doesn’t think we’re supposed to go out.”

And Mr Tucker said he was disappointed to see his motion to hear the application today fall.

“It shouldn’t have been deferred,” he said.

“The Asda and Morrison’s plans are two totally different applications.

“One is a regeneration project and one is just a supermarket.”

He also said he was shocked to hear the council could face a judicial review and fears that by not determining the application the council has now “left itself completely open”.

“If it were just two plans for two supermarkets then fine,” he said.

And another councillor, Glyn Lane, said he was also frustrated. Having voted to hear the application during the meeting the Conservative Mr Lane afterwards said: “I think it needs to be determined.

“Dealing with this application would go some way to sorting out Barnstaple as a whole.”

Journal reporter Will Topps was at the meeting. You can follow his live updates from the meeting in the box below:

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13 comments

  • Charlespk  |  April 15 2013, 2:34PM

    Supermarkets flourish by taking trade from the indigenous local populations everywhere. . They steal all their best selling lines and just leave communities with sterile, skill-less High Streets full of charity shops. And of course any profits just leaves the community.

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  • BarnstapleMan  |  April 12 2013, 7:01PM

    The site needs to be developed and i have no objection to a supermarket going in there, at least it will free up the other better supermarkets meaning i don't have to deal with the Asda type 'consumer' when i do my shopping!!!!! What i do object to is the 'affordable' housing that will be built.....it won't be affordable as it won't be for sale but rather given away to the benefit generation we are breeding in Barnstaple!

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  • Hensfriend  |  April 11 2013, 10:41AM

    Of course, no one thinks it would not be beneficial for the site known as Anchorwood Bank to be developed, or that housing wouldn't be hugely beneficial, but it should not be with another supermarket. Think of the long term impact on the town. North Devon Council's own Development Brief for the Anchorwood Bank Site (dated 2007) states quite clearly that the site should be 'non-food' retail only. Wouldn't it be so much nicer for the town if the Anchorwood Bank site made full and proper use of its riverside location by introducing shops, bars and restaurants which could have outside seating to attract visitors as well as be a pleasure for local people? Are the Councils and developers trying to attract other businesses? How about a decent sized cinema? If enough other businesses were interested would the supposed 'need' for Asda exist? High Street stores need not change the culture of the town, they could complement the existing independent stores and encourage people to visit; isn't it shameful that consumers and visitors leave North Devon to shop elsewhere? Traders of Barnstaple don't say we do not want another supermarket because we are afraid of competition for our own stores. We do not want another supermarket because we are also consumers in this town and we want choice. It is a fallacy to think Supermarkets offer choice, they simply do not. They are all the same, with all the same products, offering all the same discounts (you can see this from their advertising). They are indeed essential for some things, however, they promote a lazy, uninteresting way to shop and this is what another one on the outskirts of town will do. It will not encourage people to walk across the bridge into the High Street; people will be encouraged not to leave the site. It is also foolhardy to believe the supermarkets would not come here if they would not make money. Particularly the big four supermarket chains require a 'presence' in towns where the others exist; they do not need these to be profitable stores. Waitrose will not come to Barnstaple as they recognise there is no need! If the Anchorwood Bank development goes ahead as proposed, it will kill Barnstaple High Street and in the long term, the town will become a ghost town. With the supermarket being built as the first phase of the development what guarantees are there that the rest of the development will actually take place? Apparently the supermarket must be in place first to act as a 'catalyst' for the rest of the site, however, Barnstaple has seen these promises before. In one stage of their proposals for Roundswell, did Sainsbury's not promise a school, did the developers not promise a playground at Silverwood Heights which was only built after a considerable fight, and did Tesco's not promise a car-wash? I'm sure there are other examples of which I personally have no knowledge. Apparently, at this stage, Asda have 'promised' half a million pounds towards the development of a footbridge to aid access to the site. The cost of the footbridge would be c.£5million, who would be paying the other four and a half million?

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  • Motomadmarcus  |  April 11 2013, 10:18AM

    To many back handers going on from Evans transport

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  • a5391k  |  April 10 2013, 7:00PM

    Shelf stacking jobs are better than no jobs at all. The development isn't just a Supermarket it also has much needed homes, amenities and gets rid of a derelict site as well as providing jobs for management, supervisory, cashier, administration, drivers, packers, etc . As well as construction jobs and the spin offs associated with that. How can all this be put at risk to serve the interests of one local businessman and his cronies? Whoever elected these people, especially the councillors that can't be bothered to read reports we paid should remember this at the next election.

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  • Bigredbus  |  April 10 2013, 5:46PM

    As usual the council stick their heads in the sand and hope it will go away. Well we need jobs and housing in the town. Green Lanes killed the High Street off ages ago so it won't matter having an Asda and a Morrisons. More competition means more choice. We have 2 Tesco stores and a Sainsbury's so why not an Asda and a Morrisons? The council have this "brilliant" slogan of Barnstaple is a Must. A Must for what? Charity shops, 2nd hand shops and empty shops? That's a real lure for new trade and visitors. It's about time these woolly headed councillors started living in the real world and make a blooming decision for a change. As for the councillor who needs 3 months to read a report perhaps she should take a remedial course at the college in how to read without moving her lips!

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  • bobbob43  |  April 10 2013, 4:52PM

    Don't want another Supermarket ,but the Shapland site looks a mess and someones got to invest in it, and the owners of the Evans site must also like their business premises to look like a bombed out war zone, or is that part of the sell off plan!! ?

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  • Sue200  |  April 10 2013, 4:00PM

    Is it any wonder that nothing ever gets done! Brave decision Council - not.

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  • ICHAPMAN  |  April 10 2013, 3:41PM

    Perhaps an unpopular viewpoint, but I'm in favour of allowing both Asda and Morrison build stores in Barnstaple. They are both big companies who will make a go of the stores and are unlikely to throw in the towel. Both will bring a good number of jobs to the area (remembering that both will include potential construction jobs, and have other parts included - such as a hotel and restaurants etc.), and whilst they perhaps are not to everyone's taste, and perhaps not all full-time, I'm of the view that a job is a job. Yes, I accept that there will perhaps be a knock-on effect in the high-street, but the number of jobs lost will be exceed by the number of jobs created. I've seen complaints on other similar stories that "what need are more independent stores". Sure that would be nice, but there are plenty of empty units on the high street, or just off that aren't being "snapped" up by the independent stores that people keep wishing for. Additionally I don't see that independent stores will only bring a couple of jobs to the area. With various major store brands and manufacturing sites in the area have recently closed (Staples, Comet, Gamestation, Jessops, Tyco, S&T etc), and other large organisation reviewing there retailer units across the country (Argos, EE etc) unless we accept retail jobs, I don't see anything else bring employment to the area. Councillors - If there is some other master plan for bringing jobs to the area, then please share it with the rest of us, but I just don't see it at the moment!

    Rate   10
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  • ICHAPMAN  |  April 10 2013, 3:40PM

    Perhaps an unpopular viewpoint, but I'm in favour of allowing both Asda and Morrison build stores in Barnstaple. They are both big companies who will make a go of the stores and are unlikely to throw in the towel. Both will bring a good number of jobs to the area (remembering that both will include potential construction jobs, and have other parts included - such as a hotel and restaurants etc.), and whilst they perhaps are not to everyone's taste, and perhaps not all full-time, I'm of the view that a job is a job. Yes, I accept that there will perhaps be a knock-on effect in the high-street, but the number of jobs lost will be exceed by the number of jobs created. I've seen complaints on other similar stories that "what need are more independent stores". Sure that would be nice, but there are plenty of empty units on the high street, or just off that aren't being "snapped" up by the independent stores that people keep wishing for. Additionally I don't see that independent stores will only bring a couple of jobs to the area. With various major store brands and manufacturing sites in the area have recently closed (Staples, Comet, Gamestation, Jessops, Tyco, S&T etc), and other large organisation reviewing there retailer units across the country (Argos, EE etc) unless we accept retail jobs, I don't see anything else bring employment to the area. Councillors - If there is some other master plan for bringing jobs to the area, then please share it with the rest of us, but I just don't see it at the moment!

    Rate   4
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