I thought it was probably time to get back to keeping this blog up to date, so here goes. I think the big row in Town at the moment is probably the proposed development on Campden Road – at least it is judging by the letters I’ve received this week!
I, along with all the other Town Councillors, have received three letters, 2 from SHA!C, and 1 from SNAS (Shipston Needs a Supermarket). I will publish all three here over the next week – so please have a look at the arguments made and leave some comments.
Today is the first letter from SHA!C, tomorrow I’ll publish SNASs. I’m happy for any comments, either for or or against – so get typing!
A letter to Shipston Town Councillors from the Shipston Heart Alive! Campaign
Proposed development off Campden Road, Shipston on Stour
We understand that the Council will be discussing the planning application made by Ainscough Strategic Land at its meeting on Monday next following the presentation made by the applicant and Warwickshire County Council to the Town Council. The Council is consulted in the planning process and in giving a response to that consultation it is relevant planning comments that the District Council is seeking. The Council is not being invited to speculate what the majority of those it represents might think about the proposal.
The proposed store
A large store on the edge of Shipston would provide a wider choice of products in a location in which parking will be more convenient than in the town centre. It will also provide local jobs. It is clear that many local residents support it but it is equally clear that many do not.
What those who do not support the store realise is that greater choice, more convenient parking and local jobs all come at a price which they do not consider is worth paying to gain the benefits of a large store. They see that the price is the risk of losing a vibrant town centre. They also have other concerns but this is the main one expressed in objections.
SHA!C members share those concerns for the future of the town centre and request that Councillors give priority to the viability and vitality of the town centre when considering the application. Such an approach accords with the National Planning Policy Framework which requires such priority to be given.
The applicant’s retail impact assessment acknowledges that the new store will have an adverse impact on the town centre. The key planning test is whether or not that will be a significant adverse impact.
In 2001 a Planning Inspector decided a smaller store in Tileman’s Lane would have a 37% impact on the town centre and the appeal was dismissed for that reason. Nothing has changed since 2001 which would lessen the impact of an even larger store. In practice the combined effect of new Waitrose and a large store in Shipston would have an even greater impact on the town centre.
Roger Trym & Partners, who specialise in Retail Impact Assessments, have looked at the applicants retail impact assessment and concluded:
1. The store will draw a disproportionate amount of trade from the town centre undermining the vitality and viability of the centre as a whole
2. There is limited scope for linked trips between the proposed store and the town centre because the store is so far away from the town centre
3. The town centre is thus unlikely to benefit from clawed back trade
4 The vitality and viability of the two Co-ops will be compromised to the detriment of the town centre as a whole.
These key findings are in direct conflict with the conclusions of the applicant’s retail impact assessment and they are consistent with the conclusions of the Inspector on the Tileman’s Lane appeal. Thus two independent appraisals have concluded that an out of centre store will have a significant adverse impact on the town centre.
SHA!C was formed to give a voice to those concerned about the future of the town centre but its members have views on the application as a whole and some of those will be expressed in this letter.
Medical Services in Shipston
At present Shipston’s medical services are stretched and lack the buildings in which to deliver the level of service that the Medical Centre aspires to deliver.
The Medical Centre needs to relocate and suitable sites close to the town centre are few and far between. If any large development is contemplated in the town one of the first issues which should be asked is whether or not it is a site which could accommodate a new medical facility. That facility has greater priority than new housing, particularly extra care housing, which will only increase pressure on the existing services. If there is to be any development on this site the first question to be asked is whether or not it is suitable for a Medical Centre.
Extra Care Units
There are some important questions to be asked about the extra care units.
1. Will they met a local need? Is there any evidence of that? If not then the development will import those needing extra care services from outside the area. Is this desirable in advance of a new medical facility being provided.
2. Is the location at the top of a hill appropriate? How does the location enable residents to make use of the facilities in the town centre? Has a search been made for a more suitable location which could meet an identified local need.
The support of the County Council for this proposal should be seen in context. Whilst the benefits are clear and obvious such schemes have the effect of reducing the burden on County revenues.
No one realistically expects the refusal of the planning application at Norgren to be the last word on that site. Whilst there is local support for an employment use it seems inevitable that at least some housing will be permitted on that site, if only to enable an employment use on the remainder. Any housing on that site will go towards the town’s allocation under the Core Strategy.
Pending the outcome of the Shottery appeal the housing strategy for the District remains uncertain. It is impossible to predict what allocation will ultimately be made for Shipston.
The White Report identified this site as unsuitable for commercial development and suitable for residential development only close to the existing town.
Section 106 Contributions
Offers to make payments for locally popular issues are frequently made by developers to secure support from local residents for schemes which do not have a sound planning case. The “buying” of planning permissions was outlawed many years ago and contributions must now be confined to mitigating the impact of a development. In other words to stop existing situations being made any worse.
Nothing will happen to the town for several generations which has the potential to affect it so much as the proposed store.
Shipston Heart Alive! Campaign