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Supermarket Meeting Notes – Waitrose & Sainsbury's

supermarket-constructionWednesday night provided two fills of the Town Hall with the opportunity to hear from Waitrose and Sainsbury's about their proposals for a new store in Malmesbury. Read on for our notes taken at the meeting...

6.30pm, 12th October 2011 at Malmesbury Town Hall

Meeting notes by Malmesbury.com

Opening

John Thompson, Deputy Leader of Wiltshire Council and Chair of the Malmesbury Area Board opened the meeting, saying that the Area Board felt these proposals should be viewed publicly and that they had not yet themselves seen the presentations. Each supermarket was to be allocated 1hr, to allow the presentations to be run twice throughout the evening due to the number of people in attendance.

Waitrose

Overview

Retail developer, Simons’ Group is proposing to develop a Waitrose store on land between the by-pass and the Silk Mills. The site is within the conservation area and is therefore subject to significant design constraints to minimise the external visual impact. Physical links to the town centre will be maximised, long stay parking spaces will be provided and the store will be predominantly a food store.

Representatives at the presentation included:

Keith Smith – Lead Architect
Steve Robinson – Simons; a privately-owned property solutions business
Jonathan Banner(?) – Waitrose; part of the John Lewis group

Jonathan Banner - Waitrose

Simons’ Group is based in Lincoln and has recently specialised in retail development, i.e. food stores. Newark, Crediton, Amesbury, Carterton were given as examples (before fire alarm interruption to the meeting)!

All employees of Waitrose are partners in the company and enjoy various benefits (see http://www.jlpjobs.com/your-career/benefits.htm).

Waitrose currently have 4% of the food market and are the fastest growing food retailer in the UK. Sustainability is at the core of their DNA. They minimise their impact locally, which includes environmental impact. They have also reduced or will be reducing CO2 emissions by 20% (not sure if past or future and over what period of time, although I think it was specified – feel free to update us).

The new store will provide 140 new partners (employees) These will be split between full and part time positions, equating to approximately 40 full time positions.

Waitrose will donate £12k per year to local charities every year.

Tracklements and Taylersons Syrups were given as examples of local suppliers and they’re always open to taking on new local suppliers.

Keith Smith – Architect

It was explained that 70-80% of potential spend on food goes elsewhere and there is also a parking shortage in the town. Malmesbury is set to expand and its infrastructure will need to grow. With car parks to the north and middle of the town centre, the Waitrose site will balance car parking at the south and there will be walkway links into the town. The 250 car parking spaces will be split with 200 for the town and 50 for long stay spaces for people accessing the town centre.

waitrose-malmesbury-designThe building has been designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, with the store to be located at the lowest point, at the northern end of the site. The car park will be nearest the town centre and the entrance will be off the by-pass.

A crucial aspect of the design process was how it would look from off the site when constructed. Views from St. John’s Street, by-pass flyover, Priory roundabout and Back Hill were all taken into account. Views of the abbey were crucially unaffected by the design of the development. The ground around the building would be built up to meet up with the sloping roof, i.e. alter the contour of the ground around the store to create a visual effect of a slightly higher hill. The car park itself would be fully landscaped and regarding the build itself, recycled and sustainable materials are used in their design.

Steve Robinson – Simons Group

A reminder was provided about the consultation process that would lead to a planning application towards the end of this year so we should expect to see some activity on site over the next few weeks.

The square footage of the store will be 26,957 square feet with 18,000 square feet of retail space. The store will sell predominantly food with a 15% non-food products but no clothes. It would be around twice the size of the existing larger Co-op store or 2/3 the size of the Cirencester Waitrose store.

Questions to Waitrose

Q.            Will Waitrose tailor their range to protect local stores, e.g. Butchers?

A.            The store will carry the traditional Waitrose food range, which will include a butcher’s counter.

Q.            Will the new contour of the hill increase the potential flood impact on Baskerville?

A.            Nothing has been shown in studies to date but we’re happy to obtain further information and undertake further research.

Q.            Will there be a crossing across the by-pass?

A.            That has not been finalised yet. (note plan shows two crossings towards town centre)

Q.            Will there be limitations on the parking?

A.            There will be two parts; 2 hours for the main store and 50 public long stay parking spaces in the remainder.

Q.            Will there be a café in the store?

A.            Yes, it’s likely – but do you want one?

A.            No (due to impact on town centre cafes)

Q.             (Residents’ Association) As Malmesbury has been selected as a Front Runner town, would a supermarket application not be considered disrespectful of local people’s views and an attempt to circumnavigate government policy?

A.            Planning policy is steered towards development now, so no.

Q.            Internet ordering is expanding, including the online Waitrose service so is your store really needed?

A.            Whilst internet ordering is expanding dramatically, it will never replace bricks and mortar for us.

Q.            Could the entrance not be off the roundabout, rather than the by-pass?

A.            It was looked at but it wouldn’t be possible as there is not enough room.

Q.            If you’ve wanted to come to Malmesbury for such a long time, why did you not just buy the Somerfield store when Co-op took it over?

A.            It wasn’t available and it was since decided that a need existed for a new site.

Q.            Presumably you’ve done similar developments in similar towns. Have you done impact assessments after 2-3 years, e.g. on local jobs etc?

A.            Yes, we have found that High Streets actually grow as our developments are usually close to town centres.

Q.            Will jobs provided be full or part time?

A.            A mix, which will equate to 40 full time jobs.

Q.            If it all goes your way, how long would it be before your store was up and running?

A.            All being well, Easter 2013.

Q.            Will there be a petrol station?

A.            No

Q.            Where will your clientele come from?

A.            From the existing local community who currently travel further afield.

Q.            What will your opening hours be?

A.            We are still consulting with local planners but a typical store of this size would open from 8am to 9 or 10pm.

Q.            Do you have an option on the rest of the field not shown in your current plan?

A.            No – we have approximately ¾ of the field with no option on the rest of it.

Q             (Chamber of Commerce) There is concern amongst local traders. What local tradesmen are you going to be using to build the development and to maintain it on an ongoing basis?

A.            We will aim to source locally wherever possible on construction. We want local suppliers to come forward and we invite them to discuss their products and services.

Q.            What about reinforcement of water, electric supplies, e.g. solar?

A.            Any potential issues will show up in normal searches but we’re not aware of any at the moment. No solar is planned for the site.

Q.            Is there a preservation order on the large trees surrounding the site?

A.            We’re not going to be developing close enough to the edge of the site to affect them so it’s ok.

Q.            Who says that 70-80% of shopping takes place out of the town?

A.            These figures have been provided by an independent Retail Study of Wiltshire, which has shown that this is the case.

Q.            What are the next steps for input and consultation?

A.            We’re hoping for more public consultation now. The planning application process, when submitted, takes 12 weeks and goes out to local parish councils at that stage.

(It was noted that Cllr Simon Killane is a good contact for commenting.)

Q.            When will deliveries to the store be made?

A.            Typically the first delivery would arrive at 6am, with the last being towards the end of trading in the evening. Also, they need to be an hour apart.

Q.            How does Sainsburys impact on your development?

A.            Well, there is only room for one!

Q.            Are houses being planned to go with this development?

A.            No, Simons don’t ‘do’ houses.

Q.            Will an environmental assessment be done, for example to take into account the copse in the field, badgers and fox cubs?

A.            This is ongoing with planners and makes up part of the official process, if it is to be required.

Note: John Thompson reassured all, stating it is likely to be required.

Q.            Can you give us clarification over access?

A.            There will be new pedestrian crossings, as well as steps into the slope on site.

Q.            Business owners feel fearful of the impact a new store would have. What will you do to promote them?

A.            This is yet to be decided but we want to work positively with local businesses and welcome suggestions as to how we can do this.

Q.            Why not wait for the Neighbourhood Plan due to Front Runner status?

A.            The Wiltshire Retail Study provides the evidence base that suggests the need for a new store now.

Q.            Will the car park be public?

A.            There will be 50 public spaces, yes with the remainder for the store.

Q.             (Malmesbury.com) Gleeson have stated that they’ve been pushed into submitting a planning application for housing by another developer who’s done the same. Are you being pushed into submitting your application by Sainsburys? If so, and if Sainsburys were in agreement, would you be prepared to delay your application and participate in the Neighbourhood Planning process?

A.            John Thompson (Wiltshire Council) said they have no option but to accept any application that’s submitted as it comes in.

Close of questions.

Please click here to go to the Waitrose Malmesbury web site

Please click here to go to the Waitrose Malmesbury 'Our Proposals' PDF document

Sainsburys

Overview

Sainburys are proposing to develop a Sainsburys store on the garden centre site on the Crudwell Road, along with a relocated Buildbase and three employment units for industrial or office use. The site is not within the conservation area and is therefore not subject to design constraints that would minimise the external visual impact. Links to the town centre will be provided via a hopper bus and the store will stock the full product offering.

Bruno Moore – Head of Town Planning for Sainsburys in the South West

We want to bring people back to Malmesbury. The existing Co-op stores don’t serve the purpose for weekly shop. Our site doesn’t drag people through the town centre and it’s a brown field development that will provide mixed use for retail and employment units.

We will be holding a public consultation on 4th / 5th November. The site will offer relocation for Buildbase, who are looking to double the number of employees and size of their business. We are also including a petrol station in our plans. To the east side of the site in particular, hedgerows will be improved. A wood pellet boiler will provide all heating so no gas will be required. Rainwater will be recycled and daylight will be maximized in the store, to obtain Passive House standard. Overall, new Sainsburys builds today require 40% less energy than those built in 2005. It will provide a significantly improved shopping experience and up to 200 new jobs, i.e. 1/3 full time and 2/3 part time.

sainsburys-malmesbury-equivalent-odd-down-bathThe store will be 30,000 feet in total, which is felt required to compete and provide a universal offering to the community. This equates to a store half the size of the Chippenham store and very similar to a new store in Odd Down, Bath. Click here to go to the web site for the Odd Down store.

The road infrastructure will be improved with a roundabout in front of the store and a hopper bus will run to the town centre. Corporate initiatives and sustainable sourcing will also play a part in the development. Sainsburys have invested in and achieved Gold Accreditation for employees from Investors in People.

Additional notes

Charitable donations in Wiltshire were also mentioned. (£20k annually throughout the county?). Two other attendees on behalf of Sainsburys were John Whittaker (Planning related?) and Nick Bradshaw (Highways).

Questions to Sainsburys

Q.            Will the store sell a wider product range?

A.            There will be a level of non-food and will sell clothes.

Q.            Will you be approaching farmers about miscanthus for the burner?

A.            It only burns wood waste but possibly if there’s an economic case.

Q.            How many people will you be bringing in to the area?

A.            We don’t have figures for this.

Q.            If I’m away on 4th / 5th November for your exhibition, when and how can I know more?

A.            There will be a web site and we can also address people individually.

Q.            How will the hopper bus be run?

A.            We may increase the existing buses or supply a dedicated one.

John Thompson, Wiltshire Council added that current routes are at capacity.

Q.            What will happen to the garden centre?

A.            There are 25 people employed there and we’re offering 200, which is obviously significantly more.

Q.            Pleased to see petrol station but what about garden centre?

A.            (v brief and not noted)

Q.            Noted full on competition to the High Street! Why do they feel this is anything different to that?

A.            There will be a hopper bus and we can work with local traders.

Q.            Does the site represent a connection to new houses?

A.            No, it stands independently.

Q.            What is the exact nature of any link with Gleeson, what is the impact either way and why won’t you wait?

A.            We would like to progress now. There is no known link to Gleeson. No discussions have taken place with Gleeson.

Q.            Will the new petrol station affect the existing one?

A.            Our plans don’t affect it.

Q.            Have you done traffic studies and what are the implications of a roundabout?

A.            A traffic assessment will be done as part of planning process. There is space for a roundabout and it will significantly benefit all road users, e.g. by allowing right turn.

Q.            Is it coincidence that Buildbase will move?

A.            Buildbase have a requirement to move.

Q             (follow up)            I smell a rat!

A             (Cllr Simon Killane)            Park Road application has gone to appeal and was initially refused as it’s outside the settlement boundary.

Q.            Regarding impact on local businesses, what will the new units be and what, other than the hopper bus, can Sainsburys do to encourage use of the town centre?

A.            May be able to help with car parking charges etc. As for the units, we will apply for B1 and B2 use but there are no firm plans.

Q.            Sainsburys objective appears to be a ‘one stop shop’, whereas Waitrose appears to be more appropriate to Malmesbury, as a food store.

A.            We’ve got a full range offering.

Q.            Traffic – what about access on Charlton road?

A.            Access onto Charlton road will be closed.

Q.            Regarding the units at Buildbase, will their parking spaces be available when their store is closed?

A.            This is not likely to arise as we will provide adequate dedicated space.

Q.            Please explain map.

A.            Buildbase at rear, units at front.

Q.             (and A’s) Will the range include:

Dry Cleaning? No

Café? Yes

Pharmacy? Maybe

Household? Limited

Clothes? Yes

Q.            Have you had any discussion with retailers to move up to your site?

A.            Yes, not from the High Street but maybe nearby.

Q.            With 7000 items on sale in your store, what’s in the town that we can’t get in Sainsburys?

A.            We can happily run alongside each other. People can get on the bus first , then travel back to the store to shop.

Q.            How can applications be considered side by side if the Sainsburys store has yet to be designed?

A.            We are not in a conservation area, so not subject to the same design constraints.

Q.            Will there be any crossings, e.g. for disabled people?

A.            Details are still be looked at and decisions will come out of the consultation.

Q.            Will the roundabout take lorries through the car park to deliver to the store?

A.            No. There will be a second entrance for deliveries at the north (Cirencester) end of the site with an access road to the rear of the store.

Q.            Many builders in their vehicles use Buildbase all the time. Won’t this make the main entrance busy?

A.            They will use the same entrance but not go through the car park.

Q.            Does this ‘need’ for a supermarket not simply equal an ‘opportunity’ for you?

A.            Wouldn’t disagree and we are aiming to meet that need.

Q.            How can you be sure they’ll go to your store when they have to get the car out anyway?

A.            We suggest people will make their decision based on food prices.

Q.            Is this just another light industrial site?

A.            (not noted)

Q.            Where is the biomass burner on the plan and where do the pellets come from?

A.            It will be located in the service yard.

Q.            Is it normal to provide employment units, who will own them and is it simply to get planning?

A.            Yes, it’s driven by planning policy.

Q.            If it sounds like there is to be a supermarket, can the Council encourage both to apply together, and what about 106 agreements?

A.            There is a process to follow. These are two commercial businesses and the planners cannot insist they come in together.

Close of questions.

Please click here to go to the Sainsbury's Malmesbury web site.

Note: Second presentation (repeat) not attended by Malmesbury.com.

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