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Questions about Sainsbury's

From Miles H

Saturday, 2 May 2015

I concede I have not followed the to-ing and fro-ing of this closely, so may have got things wrong.

If Sainsbury's application to use the old fire station site has been rejected, does anyone know whether they are interested in the "brown field" site opposite the Stubbings Wharf pub?

I can absolutely understand the parking and access problems that the old fire station site would have caused.

But presumably they are far less of an issue on that brown field site, which is on a main road and a short distance from the centre of town?
I appreciate that some people simply do not like supermarkets, full stop, and of course they are free not to shop in supermarkets. Fine. But our town already has quite a large supermarket (the Co-op) so logically I would have thought that any threat a medium-sized Sainsbury's would present would be to the Co-op, a shop which could be so much better, but which kind of gets by on being average at best purely because it has so little nearby competition.

I shop frequently in Hebden Bridge's wonderful selection of small shops, quite often choosing to shop in one of them even when I know I could buy whatever it is I want cheaper elsewhere. That's my choice. I am though not convinced by all the Say No To Sainsbury's posters they have up.

My thinking would be that it is the Co-op and possibly One Stop and Oasis that Sainsbury's would be in competition with – the small local shops, if they've not be affected by those three, I'd have thought would feel little impact from Sainsbury's.

I am wondering whether some of the objections to Sainsbury's opening anywhere (as I say I understand the objections to the old fire station site) are simply a variation on: "Hebden isn't that sort of town and doesn't want to be thank you very much".

But there's a balance to be struck surely between maintaining the character of the town on the one hand (hence my active support of local shops), while on the other hand recognising that people need to shop at convenient hours and that a degree of competition for the Co-op will likely favour local customers both from a price and a quality (of goods and service) perspective.

As a side issue, much as I love them, I do also think some of our local shops could perhaps make more effort to be open at times slightly more appropriate to most people's working day.

I'm interested in what people think. I am as conscious of Hebden's heritage, character and aesthetic as anyone. But equally I feel somewhat uncomfortable with Canute-like objections to Sainsbury's which arguably would mainly impact the Co-op and would almost certainly improve choice for local customers as well as most likely improve prices and quality.
I know some people won't agree but I'm interested to know what the arguments are (discounting the ones specific to the old fire station site). Thanks.

From Myra James

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Miles raises the interesting question of whether Sainsbury's, if prevented from opening a convenience store at the fire station site, might be interested in Brown's site at Mytholm instead. That site has had planning permission for a medium-sized supermarket since December 2013.

So far there has been little if any indication of any supermarket wishing to open there but presumably Sainsbury's could pursue that option if it wished to. Personally I hope it doesn't as I would prefer to see something much more imaginative than a supermarket on that gateway site, for example the food growing/educational/visitor attraction proposed by Incredible Edible Mytholm.

From Andy G

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

I can't help but wonder whether Sainsbury's will still be interested in opening any new stores now that they have just announced a loss of £72 million for the last financial year.

From Miles H

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Andy, you make a fair point, and may be right, I don't know. Personally, I think the town is fairly ill-served by the Co-op in its current guise, and so I'd be hopeful that any medium-sized supermarket would introduce vital competition on price, choice and service. The small, local shops are great, and I use them regularly, but they're pricey and not always that convenient (working hours wise) so realistically a lot of Hebden Bridge people have to use supermarkets as part of their weekly routine: be it making do with the Co-op, driving to Tod, or using a supermarket delivery service.

From Dave G

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Most supermarket chains are struggling as profits fall, much of this due to them over valuing their assets, but also due to increased competition from European supermarkets from the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

Unfortunately the Co-op is often more like an Eastern European store with vast arrays of empty spaces where food should be, usually fruit and and veg seems to have dissapeared from the shelves. There is always loads of booze though, suspect this where they make the money!

The public are as ever badly served, as big business is mainly interested in profit not need.

From Dave T

Friday, 15 May 2015

I wonder if all the objectors to any Sainsburys proposals are aware of the fact that they (Sainsburys) are one of the largest charitable contributors in the country. Donating over 40% of all profits to humanitarian and educational causes as well as the arts. Apparently that have done so for over 20 odd years… Just sayin like ;)

From Jonathan Timbers

Thursday, 21 May 2015

I have been entertained by the discussion over Sainsbury's, ranging from free market gospel - stating the bloody obvious as if it's some sort of revelation to be handed down to us sceptical heathens - to calls for the nationalisation of all supermarkets including the co-op (confusingly compared by the same person to a Stalinist food store).

None of these responses are remotely relevant to whether Sainsbury's should site a store on Valley Road.

For a much less amusing, more technical view, you may be interested to read the Town Council's response to the planning appeal.

It refers to some excellent traffic survey work conducted by Anthony Rae, from Friends of the Earth, also submitted to the planning appeal.

Please note that I wrote the appeal statement when I was still chair of Hebden Royd Town Council and town mayor. I am no longer mayor. The excellent and lovely Karl Boggis has that honour once again.


From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 22 May 2015

I am delighted to hear that the Planning Inspector turned down the appeal from the developers working on behalf of Sainsbury's.

Reading the appeal, it seems that the inspector accepted the town council's argument that the development had to be seen in the wider context of parking and congestion throughout the town and the impact that this would have on local business.

Special thanks should go to Anthony Rae who, as ever, did the really hard stuff and produced robust evidence about the impact on traffic and parking of putting a large convenience store on Valley Road. Calderdale planning officers also did some very detailed and painstaking work which influenced the inspector. They rarely get public praise for their contribution but I, for one, am impressed by how they approached this David and Goliath issue.

I'd also like to thank those who campaigned against Sainsbury's for putting the issue firmly on the town council's agenda and keeping it there. The town council did not take the same position as SOS but focussed on the planning arguments that eventually won the day. In fact, we understood why not everyone agreed with SOS, but still took the position that it was the wrong development in the wrong place and would harm the town.

Labour's Cllr Dave Young, who has just be re-elected to serve on Calderdale, with a thumping 2,700 votes, also put time and effort into opposing the application and the appeal.

The Labour Party chair of the planning committee, Cllr Dan Sutherland, who turned down the original application should also be credited with considerable intelligence and sang-froid because he went against officer advice to do so. He took a brave decision after taking a very clear view of a complex matter.

Thank you to you all. What a good way to end my mayoral year!

Cllr Jonathan Timbers
West End Ward
Labour Party


See also

HebWeb News: Sainsburys Loses Appeal (Friday, 22 May 2015)

HebWeb Forum: Sainsbury's planning meeting (Sept 2014)

HebWeb News: Calderdale throws out Sainsbury's plans. (16 Sept 2014)

HebWeb Forum: Sainsbury's survey (Feb-March 2014)

Save our Shops supermarket survey

HebWeb Forum: Sainsbury's and Tesco's (Dec 2013-Feb 2014)

HebWeb News: Sainsbury's plans now online (30 Jan 2014)

HebWeb News: Protests as Town Council discusses the Sainsburys bid (8 Jan 2014)

HebWeb News: Brown's site: Questions raised over new Retail Assessment which backs proposed supermarket (July 2013)

HebWeb News: Brown's site: Planners recommend refusal of Supermarket and Hotel plans

HebWeb Forum - discussion from July 2012

HebWeb Forum - discussion from March to May2012