LAKES parish councillors have recommended refusal of plans for a Sainsbury’s store on land next to Hayes Garden World in Ambleside.
But the final decision will rest with planners on the Lake District National Park development control committee later this year.
Councillors meeting recently said it would have an 'adverse effect on the character and appearance of the town, imperil the viability of local shops and affect traffic along the main A591'.
A final plans update from Sainsbury’s representatives also left councillors highly critical of original information that the store would sell only food.
New plans reveal that 15 per cent of the store space will be devoted to non-perishables including electrical goods, home and cookware, stationery and clothing.
However Sainsbury’s said they would only be selling a small selection of these items, which would not compete with specialist shops in the town.
The store intends to provide a complete weekly food shop for the 80 per cent of the town’s population which currently travels to Windermere or Kendal for this purpose.
Ambleside Spar owner Cliff Newton said a Sainsbury’s would rip the heart out of the town centre, which had already suffered a hit from Tesco’s, and implored Lakes Parish Council to reject the plan. He said the store was a blot on the landscape, which would be wrong both for the National Park and the Lake District which was seeking World Heritage status.
Local resident Hugh Wright said a Sainsbury’s store was not just creeping urbanisation but more like “leaping, galloping urbanisation”, which would ‘ruin Ambleside’.
Hoteliers and retailers both agreed that visitors came to Ambleside to find something different, including small independent local shops.
However, retail predictions for 2018 showed a possible 17 per cent reduction in turnover at Ambleside Spar and Tesco, 12.7% per cent at the Co-op and approximately 11.8 per cent for smaller local shops, raising fears that some might not survive.
The council also criticised the plan for referring to a designated traffic free cycle route to the store, which does not exist.
However, Sainsbury’s consultation feedback showed 67 per cent of people generally in favour of the store, 26 per cent against and seven per cent unsure.
Local shoppers would continue to top up during the week using local shops, the company said.
The meeting was told deliveries would total four trucks daily, plus two milk and one bread delivery. Sainsbury’s denied it was not interested in promoting locally produced food, and invited local suppliers to get in touch.
The store would create 100 full and part-time jobs for locals. Total parking spaces across the Hayes site would be 332, of which 142 would be managed by Sainsbury’s with two hours free parking. Store pricing would be in line with similar-sized Sainsbury stores.
In further response to comments and consultation, Sainsbury’s modified its original plans, including siting the building further back from the highway, and reducing its height.
Councillors voted almost unanimously for refusal of the plans, with one abstention.
Andrew Sanderson, Sainsbury's regional development manager, said: “We listened to the concerns residents had about our original plans and, as a direct result of that feedback, have improved the scheme accordingly. We feel that this development would be a positive addition to Ambleside, creating jobs for the local community and reducing the distance people currently travel to do their weekly shop.”