A NEW application for a retail store in Leominster received mixed reviews when the town council’s planning committee met this week.
Councillors met to debate a new application from FH Dales after the company was refused permission to build an 85,000sq ft Sainsbury’s store on its Mill Street site in January.
Now bidding for a 36,000sq ft supermarket with a sales area of 25,000sq ft, the application has dropped both its request for a petrol station – due to environmental concerns – and plans for up to 50 new homes.
It is not yet known which supermarket will front the store but at this week’s meeting, Dales said it was aiming for a “high-end” brand.
The Leominster business – which says it has been a major employer in the town for much of its 82-years in operation – also wants to introduce an in-house training and apprenticeship facility.
But town councillors were not all convinced that the new application was a positive thing for the town.
Councillor Peter Ellis said he feared there would be some “collateral damage” to Leominster’s current town centre businesses should the supermarket be built.
“The last application failed partly because the core strategy – which is not yet officially approved – says retail development should take place within the town centre. We do want to see more food shops, clothes shops and more choice but we don’t need it or want it on the edge of the town where it will draw people away,” he said.
Other concerns raised included the loss of industrial land, increased traffic and pollution, and fears of flooding to the surrounding houses.
But others said that the new store would be a good opportunity for local people.
“We are talking about a serious amount of jobs here, both at the store and at Dales,” said councillor Wayne Rosser.
“This town needs to remember its youth as well.”
It would also offer an opportunity to bring people into the town with linked trips, added councillor Denise Kerwood.
The town council deferred making a decision until May 6 when it is hoped responses and comments to the new application will have been received from statutory bodies.