Fringe Box



First Test for ‘Local Green Space’ Designation as Sainsbury’s Seeks Store Extension

Published on: 9 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 13 Oct, 2020

Satellite view showing tree coverage, planted when Burpham Sainsburys was constructed. Image: Google maps.

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd has submitted a planning application to Guildford Borough Council for an extension to its store in Burpham. If approved the proposal will result in physical development within a section of Local Green Space designated in the Burpham Neighbourhood Plan and the removal of 67 trees.

The planning application seeks permission for, “Proposed expansion of existing ‘Groceries Online’ (GOL) distribution hub including the erection of a new loading bay.” The planning statement, prepared by WYG, the agent for Sainsbury’s sets out details of the proposal, which includes 264sq metres of internal storage and distribution floorspace clad in grey panels, a new steel-framed aluminium clad canopy and loading gantry; a relocated fire escape and extended boundary treatment with acoustic mitigation.

Plan showing boundary of the proposed development as a red line.

The overall footprint of the development is 1,425 sq metres which will, according to the applicant, enable the operation of 18 delivery vans allowing online order delivery capacity to be tripled. Sainsbury”s argue the development is needed to meet the growing needs of online shoppers, particularly during the Covid outbreak.

WYG, the agent for Sainsbury’s issued a statement saying: “A presentation was delivered which set out the evolution of the scheme’s design, and additional information was provided on the economic factors influencing the development. Feedback from the officer and ward member was positive, and the additional queries raised have helped to shape the final application submission.”

Cllr George Potter

But Cllr Potter responded: “The pre-application presentation was a chance for myself, as a ward councillor, and the planning officer to listen to their proposals and to ask questions for informational purposes, and it would have been improper for either of us to express any opinion on the application. Both of us were aware of this and therefore actively avoided expressing any opinion on the application.”

“Residents are justifiably concerned by the impact the proposed development would have and by the loss of greenspace, especially in terms of the impact on wildlife. Worryingly, the applicant’s own ecological appraisal states that further surveys would be needed to properly evaluate the impact on protected wildlife species such as bats.

“At this stage in the process my duty as ward councillor is to ensure that the voices of residents are heard on this issue, and I encourage any residents with views on this application (20/P/01537) to formally comment on it via the council planning portal before the deadline on Wednesday, October 14.”

WYG’s statement was later retracted and an apology given to Cllr Potter who wanted it made clear he was not in favour of the application. WYG said: “We have been made aware that some of the wording of our submitted planning statement was unclear and may have given the impression that officers and elected members expressed support for the proposals at the pre-application submission stage. We would like to place on public record that this is not the case.

“Although a meeting was held with Cllr George Potter and planning officer Katie Williams, both parties, whilst welcoming the opportunity for consultation, held a neutral position in terms of the merits of the application in planning terms. We would like to apologies to both parties if the wording of the planning statement caused any embarrassment. We look forward to continuing a dialogue with all parties going forward.”

Christian Holliday, chair of the Burpham Neighbourhood Forum and Andy Clapham, Chair Burpham Community Association in the copse threatened by the proposed development.

In a joint statement, Christian Holliday, chair of the Burpham Neighbourhood Forum and Andy Clapham, Chair Burpham Community Association said that their organisations: “… have both raised objections to this application.

“The development encroaches into a local green space, which enjoys the same level of protection from inappropriate development as green belt. The land is protected by both the Burpham Neighbourhood Plan and the Local Plan, and this proposal will have a significant impact on wildlife and natural habitats.

“Some 60 trees will be felled – ironic, given that this area was planted up as mitigation when the store was first opened. Residents living nearby are already disturbed by noise at night, and removing a large area of woodland and undergrowth can only exacerbate this. We are also concerned that if one of Burpham’s local green spaces is destroyed, a dangerous precedent will be set for the others, not only in Burpham but elsewhere.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We are working to expand our service to ensure we can meet the increased demand of online shopping from the local community.

“This investment will provide a boost to the local economy and create around 100 jobs. The development has been specifically designed to avoid the entirety of the ancient woodland, encourage new ecological activity and offset any longer-term loss.”

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Responses to First Test for ‘Local Green Space’ Designation as Sainsbury’s Seeks Store Extension

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    October 9, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    Hardly a first.

    What about the green copse between Guildford Industrial Estate and Ash Grove that was cleared without warning in a weekend earlier this year?

    I’ve never seen a full explanation of how that happened, without notice to GBC, and what the follow up was.

    Another problem of turning an area currently not required into a green space, maybe even just letting ‘nature’ take over.

    If properly planned, I’ve seen them established as registered sites such as SSSI with industrial complexes in the middle.

  2. Lisa Wright Reply

    October 10, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Why can’t Sainsbury’s build on their huge car park?

  3. John Beynon Reply

    October 11, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    I very much regret the loss of trees anywhere and note, in this particular case, the irony of felling trees that were planted as part “compensation” for the creation of the Sainsbury’s site initially. At the same time, I appreciate why, in the interests of efficiency, Sainsbury’s would like to expand this particular site.

    To my way of thinking, an acceptable compromise would be to insist that, within the borough, Sainsbury’s plant, say, two substantial trees for every one that they wish to fell at Burpham. The borough council, perhaps responding to suggestions made by residents, could be the arbiters of where the new trees should be planted. This could be a win-win situation for everyone.

  4. J Dickinson Reply

    October 12, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    As can be seen from the aerial photo, the largest footprint on this site is a large ground-level car park. Why?

    This is brownfield land which should be used for development. The main thrust of the changes to the planning framework is that efficient use of brownfield land needs to be made. Sainsbury’s should be installing a parking deck and upper sales floor rather than taking the easy option.

    With regards to the increase in home delivery vans, officers should be challenging Sainsbury’s to show how all of these new vans are needed to serve households within one or perhaps two-mile radius of this superstore, as bringing such a large increase in heavy goods vehicles into an area that is essentially a residential zone seems to be completely at odds with the UK’s air quality and net-zero policies.

  5. Gordon Bridger Reply

    October 12, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    This ridiculous Planning application we have far too many low productivity shops should be rejected.

  6. Ian Barrow Reply

    October 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    I am equally concerned that previously Sainsbury’s were muting the possibility of gaining direct vehicle access from the London Road via a similar scheme. In my experience if this initial planning request is given the go ahead, they could table an amendment to planning at a later date for vehicle access once the 67 trees and woodland had long since been cleared.

  7. Sam Peters Reply

    October 13, 2020 at 7:12 am

  8. David Middleton Reply

    October 13, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    I can’t see what the fuss is about. It’s a small chunk at the scrag end of a bit of scrubland in a semi-urban area. Hardly ancient woodland.

    As for the objections about potential noise, it’s about 350 metres from the A3 and bang next to the A3100 London Road. Hardly a “peaceful spot” and already the site of Sainsbury’s unloading bays.

    As for making the existing store and car park two-story as suggested above, that would cost millions, look awful, and have a much greater negative impact on the local area.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      October 13, 2020 at 8:17 pm

      Perhaps Mr Middleton would appreciate the situation more if he spent four years writing a Neighbourhood Plan.

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