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 Author-ity’s development control committee later this year.
Parish councillors 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 A591.
A final plans update from Sainsbury’s representatives 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, cookware, home, stationery and clothing.
However Sainsbury’s said they would only be selling a small selection of these items and would not compete with shops in the town. The store intends to provide a weekly food shop for the 80 per cent of the town’s population who currently shop in Windermere or Kendal.
Ambleside Spar owner Cliff Newton said a Sainsbury’s store would rip the heart out of the town centre, which had already suffered a hit from Tesco, and implored Lakes Parish Council to reject the plan. He said the store would be wrong both for the national park and the Lake District, which was seeking World Heritage status.
Resident Hugh Wright said a Sainsbury’s store was not just creeping urbanisation but was ‘galloping urbanisation’ that would ‘ruin Ambleside’.
Hoteliers and retailers agreed that visitors came to Ambleside to find something different, including independent shops.
However, retail predictions for 2018 showed a possible 17 per cent cut 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 in favour of the store, 26 per cent against and seven per cent unsure.
Local shoppers would continue to top up during the week at local shops, said the company.
There would be four delivery trucks daily, plus two milk and one bread delivery. Sainsbury’s denied it was not interested in promoting local food, and invited suppliers to get in touch.
The store would create 100 full and part-time jobs. Total parking spaces across the Hayes site would be 332.
In response to comments and consultation, Sainsbury’s sited the building further from the highway and reduced 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 and, as a result of that feedback, have improved the scheme. We feel this development would be a positive addition to Ambleside, creating jobs and reducing the distance people travel to do their weekly shop.”