Legal bid delays Sainsbury’s scheme

PORTISHEAD shoppers will have to wait even longer for a Sainsbury’s supermarket to be completed in the town after a competitor launched a legal challenge against the scheme.

Work was due to begin on the construction of the new 30,000 sqft Serbert Way store in a matter of weeks, with the aim of opening in 2012.

However, The Co-Operative, which has a supermarket in Wyndham Way, has asked for a judicial review into North Somerset Council’s decision to approve the new store, meaning the scheme could be delayed by up to two years.

At the same time, Sainsbury’s has been preparing a second planning application for submission to North Somerset Council in the hope of incorporating new features into the store, including charging points for electric vehicles, a biomass boiler and improvements to the car park and service yard.

According to a Sainsbury’s spokesman, if this application is approved, the delays to the store could be reduced to a matter of months.

Sainsbury’s regional development executive Ben Littman said: “The legal challenge by Co-Op will cause a significant delay.

“We’ve had enormous support from residents and have absolute confidence the councillors of North Somerset Council’s planning committee made the right decision in previously approving our proposal.

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“We would like to reassure residents that we remain committed to our plans for a new store in Portishead.”

The application for the new Sainsbury’s store was submitted to North Somerset Council in January last year.

In the following May, The Co-Operative Group told North Somerset Council it would seek a judicial review if the authority approved the proposals. This was because the site falls outside of Portishead’s town centre and any approval would go against planning policy.

However, at a meeting of the unitary authority’s north area planning committee in November, members approved the Sainsbury’s plans, which were then passed to the communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles, for final approval.

A spokesman for The Co-operative confirmed an application for a judicial review was made on May 17.

The spokesman added: “Having made strong and consistent representations throughout the planning process to highlight the inadequacies of the proposals, we are extremely disappointed that the council has made such a perverse decision.

“If allowed, this would be seriously detrimental to the vitality and viability of Portishead town centre.”