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Northfleet supermarket plans get residents worked up

PUBLISHED: 09:40 14 October 2010

Sainsburys at Nortfleet

Sainsburys at Nortfleet

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A COMMUNITY claims it is facing “traffic hell” as a supermarket giant battles the council in a bid to double the size of its store.

Sainsbury’s is pushing for a huge expansion on its Pepper Hill site, in Northfleet, including extending its store and car park, building a warehouse to allow for a home delivery service and relocating the petrol station to the corner of Springhead roundabout.

Peter Mitchell, 63, who lives opposite the store, said: “We are living in traffic hell already. Even now it is awful at peak times, just imagine what that roundabout will be like if they double the size.

“It would be a complete nightmare for traffic around here and an utter disaster for residents.”

Neighbour Colin Meredith, 76, who lives opposite to site where the petrol station would be located, added: “For 18 years we have had meetings with Sainsbury’s but I imagine even if you object they will eventually win anyway.

“I understand why they want the petrol station on the corner but what about the noise and the light pollution we will all have to live with?”

Stock deliveries to the site are a cause of major concern to Springhead residents who live opposite the entrance and a compromise to the expansion is to move the delivery bay to a non residential area.

Denis and Marie Sutton, 60 and 59, fear the expansion would create different pressures.

Mr Sutton said: “We have endured 18 years of hell with lorries turning up at all times of the night. The plans to move it would help but there will be so much more traffic and lorries along this road. We are also worried they may look at 24-hour deliveries and then the lorries will be pulling up and turning opposite us.”

Sainsbury’s submitted the application in 2009 and, frustrated it had not been discussed by the Gravesham council, launched an appeal against non-determination to push through the plan.

A spokesman for the company said: “The target determination date passed some time ago. We therefore had no choice but to submit an appeal to the Government planning inspectorate so a decision can be made.”

Gravesham council regulatory board previously stated it hoped to negotiate with the company to scale down the project over fears the massive plan would damage the town centre.

With a huge increase of 72 per cent in shopping floor space also planned, fears were raised over the chain’s hopes to extend its stock to include items such as electrical goods, homeware, and clothing.

Council leader Mike Snelling, who is cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Clearly the residents are right to be worried about the increase of traffic on the roundabout nearest the store.

“The biggest issue by far, in my judgement, is the enormous threat to the viability of the town and its businesses. They clearly intend to sell what are called comparative goods, i.e not food, to the detriment of the town centre.”

He claims the planning board’s decision to turn down plans to create a huge new retail space in the town centre with the rejection of the controversial Heritage Quarter last month could be used by Sainsbury’s to show building out of town is necessary.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman added: “We have little choice but to continue with our appeal on the original application. In the meantime we shall be discussing the duplicate application recently submitted to the council’s planning officers and the issues raised by the Regulatory Board. We would hope that these discussions will provide the council sufficient comfort to approve the duplicate application in due course”.

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