Town unites against Sainsbury’s

NAWN 1103294. Ramada Hotel. 1103294AMa
NAWN 1103294. Ramada Hotel. 1103294AMa
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Hundreds of residents and shop traders have signed a petition to oppose plans for a Sainsbury’s superstore on the edge of Wetherby.

Traders in the town have set up the petition which has collected nearly 1,000 signatures so far.

They fear that a supermarket on the Ramada Jarvis Hotel site could signal the end for some businesses in the town.

In the past year, Wetherby Business Association says around 12 retailers have closed their doors.

Chairman Rosemary Nicholson said: “There have been a number of shops in Wetherby that have shut before Christmas and now this year too.

“Wetherby is within the golden triangle, it is an historic town and a wonderful place to live and work. I am sure that, like me, residents and business owners do not want to see the town die.

“Where is the incentive for people to come into Wetherby town centre when there is a Sainsbury’s on the periphery?”

The petition, set up by Andrew Veale, owner of Andrew’s Butchers on North Street, has been placed on shop counters around the town centre.

Mr Veale said: “I have set up this petition as I feel something needed to be done to show the strength of feeling in the town amongst shopkeepers and residents - many of whom are against this plan.”

Mike Johnson, of Johnson’s Fruit and Vegetable store in the Market Place, who has collected more than 200 signatures in his shop so far, is also against the plans.

The proposals have also led to Wetherby residents taking action themselves. Last week more than 100 residents and traders attended a packed meeting to oppose the plans by Sainsbury’s. The meeting, organised by Micklethwaite residents Sheila Callicott and Stella Leathley, was held at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel last Thursday.

Ms Callicott told the meeting: “We feel a Sainsbury’s here would cause great damage to the town for a number of reasons. It would undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre and have a detrimental impact on existing shops already struggling here.

“The small shops and local traders in Wetherby also play an important social role which a new Sainsbury’s could detract from.

“There would be more road congestion and an increase in traffic, especially on the A58 which is already a major road hazard. There are enough supermarkets within Wetherby and another would cause a great deal of noise pollution from delivery operations too.”

Wetherby resident Simon Kettlewell told the Wetherby News: “It will devalue the properties on the Micklethwaite estate a great deal and cause real devastation to this town. It is a real shame. There is even a suggestion by some that this is already having a knock-on effect on house prices near to the site which is very worrying.”

Residents plan to set up a website to keep locals up to date on the plans by Sainsbury’s supermarket and a further meeting will be held at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel on Thursday, June 9 at 7.30pm.

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “Our plans for a store in Wetherby are still in the early stages and are by no means finalised.

“We have already contacted the site’s immediate neighbours, and will be holding a wider consultation over the summer. This will include a public exhibition, giving the town’s residents, businesses and other stakeholders the opportunity to see the plans and give us their feedback.

“Sainsbury’s will look to incorporate as much of this feedback as possible into the final plans, which will be submitted in a planning application to Leeds City Council early in the autumn.

“We are looking forward to working with the local community as the planning process progresses.”

Will plans for a Sainsbury’s store harm town centre shops? To let us know your views, email wetherby.news@ypn.co.uk.