CONTROVERSIAL plans to plonk another supermarket in Hailsham will be decided tomorrow (Thursday) – with councillors being urged to approve the build despite fierce opposition from some locals.
Derbyshire County Council, whose pension fund owns the Quintins, wants to build a 1,407sqm store with additional retail units as well as carrying out major redevelopment work on the current car park.
However, disgruntled locals have spoken out against the proposals, with some expressing fears the new design could spell an end to popular historical buildings in the town centre, such as Courtlandt and neighbouring properties.
Wealden District Council planning officers though have urged councillors to pass the plans when the local authority meets tomorrow.
In a report, the planning officer wrote, “The development is well designed, adding positively to the street scene along North Street and respecting the adjacent buildings.”
The paper did concede that two buildings within a local conservation area would need to be demolished to make way for the development, but concluded that numbers 2 and 4 North Street were not of any “historic importance” adding that any loss was outweighed by the benefits of the scheme.
Those benefits, according to the supporters of the supermarket plans, include new jobs for the town, which would stimulate the local economy.
Nevertheless, the scheme counts the influential Hailsham Chamber of Commerce among its most ardent critics. The group’s chairman, Malcolm Adams, has put on record his opposition to the plans.
He said, “Hailsham is currently served by two major supermarkets, one medium sized and two small convenience stores.
The Co-operative, which was based inside Quintins, has recently closed due to insufficient trade to go round three major stores.
“It is patently obvious that need [for an extra store] has not been established, and that permission should not be granted.”
He also said there were enough empty units which could be brought into use before taking the drastic steps of redevelopment.
Wealden District Council has already given the green light to the basic plans, making a compete u-turn unlikely – despite the mayor of Hailsham also voicing his concern.
Councillor Jeff Bentley-Astor criticised what he saw as a lack of consultation from counterparts in Wealden and said that while he and his colleagues welcomed new businesses, he added, “The town does not need another supermarket.”
Wealden councillors will vote tomorrow. See next week’s Gazette for the outcome.