SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s has announced plans for a new store in Kendal which would create 400 jobs.
The company said it wanted to build the full-size store, on the Shap Road site occupied by Kendal Cricket Club (KCC).
The ambitious plans would incorporate a state-of-the-art ‘sports village’, including a new home for the cricket club next to Kendal Rugby Club.
However, officials at the cricket club, which rents part of the land planned for the new store, said they would oppose the relocation.
KCC member and scorer David Sykes said: “We will be formulating a response once we have seen the plans, but we can stress that we do not want to move.”
Plans for the store will be submitted to South Lakeland District Council by the store after a public consultation, which starts next week.
Sainsbury’s development executive Kevin Macmillan said: “These plans represent a significant investment in Kendal, and not only provide a new foodstore but will also help bring forward a top class sports facility for cricket, football and other sports.”
As part of the proposals, KCC would be offered a purpose-built ground with a pavilion, clubhouse and county standard wickets.
The sports village would also provide adult and junior football pitches, a changing pavilion, an archery centre and a floodlit, artificial playing surface and more than 140 parking spaces for cars and coaches.
Sainsbury’s said KCC had a lease on the land until 2026 so an agreement would have to be reached between the two parties before the supermarket could be built.
The site is owned by Fields In Trust (FIT), a UK-wide charity which aims to protect and improve outdoor sports and play spaces.
Rocky Sharrock, FIT Fields Manager, said: “This development would be a real step-change for sports facilities in the town.
"As well as being home to the cricket club, many of Kendal’s other sports clubs would benefit from this top class facility.
“We are sad that KCC does not want to take the opportunity to move to a top class new home with us.”
Residents close to the planned site have voiced their concerns.
James Mason, of Shap Road, said: “It is a shame to see the cricket ground disappear as it is a tranquil haven and used not just by the club, but by an archery club and a nursery.
“It is also yet another green space that will be gone forever.
"From a personal point of view, it will obviously increase noise and it will be busy and probably affect the value of the surrounding properties.”
Another Shap Road resident, who did not want to be named, said: “The town is becoming less rural every day. Wherever we have a nice green space we build on it.”
A year ago plans were unveiled for a major redevelopment of Canal Head at Kendal to include a supermarket.
Mr Macmillan told the Westmorland Gazette: “I’m aware there was speculation that Sainsbury’s might have an interest in the Canal Head site, so I’m pleased we can be open and upfront about our plans and reveal the site we are interested in.”
SLDC’s portfolio holder for Economic Prosperity Graham Vincent said: “From a personal view I am not entirely sure that a store in an out of town location would be entirely positive.
“However, I will keep an open mind and with the plans Sainsbury’s must submit an economic assessment and highways plans, which are key to any development.
"I believe that we are also expecting a submission for Canal Head within the next month and we need to keep the town centre attractive and vibrant, so there is lots to take into account.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said: “I’m neutral on the matter for now as there are both pros and cons.
"On a positive side it is nice to see a developer seeking proper public consultation by setting up public meetings, but on the other hand there could be a worry about the impact another supermarket could have on the town.”
Sainsbury’s plans for the 50,000 sq feet store - similar in size to Kendal’s Morrisons - will be displayed at Stricklandgate House, Stricklandgate, Kendal on Friday, September 3 from 11am-7pm and Saturday, September 4 from 10am-2pm.