Saturday, 25 July 2009

Mark’s Cunning Plan

When the Morrisons & Back Riggs development started, Government planning guidance required retail developers to prove that a ‘need’ existed and that the location of the development was the nearest developable site to the town centre (the sequential test). A consultants’ study ‘demonstrated’ that the expanded Morrison’s would meet the ‘food shopping need’ of Morpeth for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the Government then moved the goalposts – and now require demonstrable competition and proof of ‘demand’ – though the ‘sequential test’ remains. So Mark Dransfield’s ‘cunning plan’ is to use his ‘Low Stanners’ proposal to demonstrate that a second supermarket – providing competition – can be built close to the town centre, so that the out of town proposals from Sainsbury and Tesco are thrown out.

For some reason – the existence of Morrisons, Lidl, Iceland, M&S, three butchers, two bakers, two greengrocers, two delis and a cheese shop in Morpeth town centre does not meet the Government requirement for ‘competition’. And, the rumoured appearance of a small Sainsbury’s on the Market Place when M&S move into the Arcade isn’t likely to change this.

So – all Mark needs is outline planning permission with enough detail to show the plan is viable. The siting of the supermarket, carparks, delivery access etc ideally needs further consideration…

And I’m not sure he has the OK from the Environment Agency yet.

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