Focus on town after supermarket refusal

MHBG-12-07-12 Jeff Kenner
MHBG-12-07-12 Jeff Kenner

Controversial plans to build a supermarket in Shipston-on-Stour were unanimously refused by councillors last Thursday.

Members of Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s planning committee (East) met at Shipston High School to discuss the plans . They all voted against the proposals which had been recommended for refusal by officers and an independent analyst.

Developer Ainscough Strategic Land (ASL) proposed to build a supermarket and petrol station on land off Campden Road. The development would also have included an extra care retirement village of 80 cottages and 50 apartments and a further 54 houses.

ASL’s development surveyor Charlotte Robinson said: “We are extremely disappointed with the decision by Stratford-on-Avon District Council members to refuse our outline planning application, which had substantial community support.

“The proposals for Shipston were designed to meet the needs of the area and we are still very much committed to developing the site. The company is therefore currently considering its next steps.”

The district council’s Shipston ward councillor Jeff Kenner, who strongly supports the campaign group Shipston Needs a Supermarket and Petrol Station (SNAS), also expressed his disappointment over the decision but said they would not give up despite the setback.

“We’re positive notwithstanding the first round because there’s a huge amount of community support for the supermarket and the petrol station development,” said the Labour councillor.

“I’m disappointed that the committee didn’t recognise the strength for the case and I’m concerned there’s a danger that this one-off opportunity for investment in a time when the town really needs it is lost.

“We’re really determined to continue the campaign and people have urged me as the district councillor for the town to keep it going.”

However, supporters of the campaign group Shipston Heart Alive, which opposes over-development in the town, were happy with the outcome.

Group member Jane Brabyn said: “It’s a huge relief that they saw sense and unanimously turned it down. It would have devasted the town centre and completely swamped the small independent shops.”

Julia Cook, partner of family butchers Rightons of Shipston, said: “I think this reflects the overall view of the people in Shipston and certainly of us as retailers as we want to maintain the town’s character and diversity, which I think would have been put in jeopardy by a supermarket on the outskirts of the town. It would be awful to see the town centre deteriorate into a ghost town.”

Following the decision, district councillor Richard Cheney (Lib Dem) has asked the town’s Co-op store for an urgent meeting to discuss how the store can be improved.

He said: “Many people have told me they would like to see the Co-op upgrade its stores in Shipston.

“Now that the planning committee has rejected the divisive application for an out-of-town supermarket I think it’s time for the town to come together and ask the Co-op to improve its retail offer.”