Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sainsbury's are back! Time to circle the wagons once more...

Well, Sainsbury's have submitted another planning application for a new supermarket on the Bingley Road site of the current car wash, by the junction with Grosvenor Road. This application is very similar to their previous one earlier this year, and so I have just sent in my very similar objections!

If you agree, please object in writing to Martyn Burke at Bradford Council - The number of the planning application is 15/04044/FUL and the deadline for comments is Wednesday 14 October 2015.

My specific objections are as follows...

I am objecting – as I did in response to the previous similar application from Sainsbury’s - on three grounds: (1) the likelihood that the new building will add to local noise pollution; (2) the additional traffic and parking nuisance that will be generated if this proposal goes ahead; and (3) the adverse impact that this development will have on local businesses and Saltaire’s economic viability.

I am particularly concerned about the impact of this development on the amenity of nearby residential homes on Grosvenor Rd and Grosvenor Av.

Noise Pollution

First, deliveries to the store will take place throughout the store’s operating hours. Deliveries could therefore be arriving at 7am and leaving at 11pm, and this application states that the cumulative duration of these deliveries will span over an hour a day. In fact, if Asda’s delivery arrangements in Shipley are anything to go by, early deliveries are likely to park near the store before 7am while waiting to unload, with engines running. Delays in unloading, as is inevitable from time to time, will also result in activity at the site beyond 11pm. All of these large vehicle movements will have an adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents.

I am also concerned that the operation of this facility will result in overnight noise pollution for neighbouring residential homes. The refrigeration plant will operate for 24 hours a day, unlike the existing car wash. The applicants estimate that the noise of the external plant will be quite close to existing night time noise levels even with a “judicious selection of refrigeration plant and/or standard noise mitigation techniques”. My experience in other contexts (the impact of Asda’s external plant in Shipley town centre a few years ago, and the operation of Shipley Pool prior to its refurbishment) is that nearby residential properties are adversely affected by the noise of external plant. It is reasonable to assume that this equipment will not operate as perfectly as its design suggests it should and, let’s face it, proper maintenance is not guaranteed. Much depends as well on the direction of the wind, as this can boost local noise pollution considerably.

Unsustainable transport and pedestrian safety

I am concerned about the transport implications of this proposal and, in particular, the impact of frequent vehicle movements across a well-used pedestrian route. Parking nuisance will also be an issue.

There are several planning considerations that need to be borne in mind in in this context.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “recognises the importance of promoting developments which encourage travel by sustainable transport”, that proposals need “to be balanced in favour of sustainable transport modes, giving people a real choice about how they travel”, and that “encouragement should be given to solutions which support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion”.

Replacement Unitary Development Policy UDP7 states the aim of “promoting improved accessibility through enabling the use of public transport, cycling and walking and reducing the dependency on the private car”.

The West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan 3 (LTP3) 2011-2026 commits Bradford Council to “making it easier to access places, services and amenities by sustainable means” and to “reducing congestion and supporting greener fuel technologies”.

The applicant (as before) acknowledges that the proposed development will increase the number of cars accessing the site compared to the current operation of the car wash. According to the data provided, the extra two-way vehicle movements could be 62 per weekday peak hour and 38 per Saturday peak hour. This extra traffic add to local congestion: 40-60% of these trips on weekday peak periods will be newly generated by the store, rising to 55% to 75% at weekends. 

The extra traffic will result in a significant number of vehicle movements in and out of the site across a well-used pedestrian route linking Saltaire with the nearby residential streets. This is also a key route for parents walking their children to the local primary schools. While waiting to access the queueing traffic on the main road, these vehicles will be parked directly across the line of pavement. I already receive regular complaints from residents about cars queueing to access, and exit from, the car wash; this development will greatly exacerbate this problem. These extra traffic movements will start far earlier in the morning than is currently the case with the existing car wash, and go on far later into the evening, impeding pedestrian journeys at those times as well.

Parking is another serious concern. It is reasonable to assume that a proportion of these vehicles will not, in fact, park on site by the store as the application anticipates, but will use Grosvenor Road instead - particularly if these drivers already use Grosvenor Road for their journeys to work or to home and wish to make a short stop at the store en route. This will result in additional car engine and door banging disturbance for nearby residents from 7am to 11pm.

I accept that the highway network will be able to ‘absorb’ these additional vehicles, but Saltaire is already blighted with all-day traffic congestion and a range of related traffic nuisance issues including significant rat-running and speeding traffic plus parking problems. These proposals will make a bad situation worse, and increase high carbon travel and pollution at a time when the Council is in theory committed to decarbonising our economy. So, yet again, we are faced with proposals that degrade our ability to decarbonise our lives. For example, as far as I can see, the proposed development does not provide any sheltered cycle stands (only two unsheltered cycle stands are proposed) and does not provide any electric vehicle charging points.

I would ask colleagues to bear in mind that Policy TM2 of the Replacement UDP makes it clear that planning permission will not be granted if proposed developments “adversely affect existing and proposed transport infrastructure or services” and that “where proposals have a detrimental impact on the transport network, planning permission will not be granted”. I would argue that these additional car journeys will place additional stress on the local road network and the amenity of residents and non-car users, and I hope that colleagues will take Policy TM2 into consideration.

Unsustainable economy

My third concern is the negative impact of this new supermarket on the economic resilience of Saltaire.

The Replacement UDP states that the Council will “as far as it is possible” encourage the growth of independent specialty shops in places like Saltaire on the grounds that “a preponderance of such shops helps to keep a centre vibrant and prosperous and lend charm and individuality in a way that enhances its character and makes a shopping trip to that centre different from a trip to any other.” The Replacement UDP goes on to state that the Council will therefore “seek to support the retention and growth of independent retailers.”

In my view, the proposal undermines the aims stated above. For example, the applicants assert that the store will create 20 new jobs, but do not specify how many of these jobs will be part-time or how many other jobs will be lost in Saltaire as other shops close or reduce their staffing levels as a result of the diversion of retail footfall that this new store will trigger. This application does not offer the quantity or quality of work to local people that it claims, merely an suggestion that these jobs will be for ‘local’ people.

New supermarkets reduce footfall at local shops and this new store will divert trade from existing shops in Saltaire at a time when many are already struggling in the wake of the economic downturn. We know that hundreds of thousands of small, locally-owned businesses have been driven out of the UK retail market in recent decades. Local communities have been ‘hollowed out’ economically and homogenised in terms of the retail offer available to local residents. The insidious impact of this erosion of local identity has left us denuded of a sense of pride in our immediate economic communities and lacking control over our economic futures as a result and this proposed new supermarket can only exert additional economic pressure on Saltaire’s remaining independent traders.

Moreover, the new store’s turnover is far less likely to be ‘recycled’ in Saltaire than would be the case if this money was being spent by shoppers in locally-owned stores. Money spent in a locally-owned store is three times more likely to be spent locally by that retailer than is the case with money spent at chain stores such as Sainsbury’s.

Finally, I would also like the consultation period to be extended significantly to allow sufficient time for residents to consider this complex application.

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