KENDAL is to undergo a major jobs and shopping transformation following two significant planning decisions.

Sainsbury’s has been given the green light for a new store with 350 new jobs, while strict rules on K Village being a ‘factory outlet’ centre have been lifted to fill empty units.

Business leaders have cautiously welcomed the new Shap Road supermarket and there is fresh optimism for K Village’s future. 

Kendal Rugby Union officials hailed the supermarket deal as ending six years of ‘limbo’ over its new ground ambitions.

But there is unease about the potential ‘double whammy’ on Kendal’s town centre independents and an estimated 32,000 extra cars a week snarling-up Shap Road.

Political rows have also broken out because the K Village ruling means South Lakeland District Council has effectively ‘written off ‘ £160,000 owed by developers Kendal Riverside which are in administration.

Tory Councillor John Holmes said he believed that SLDC had ‘not acted in the best interests of ratepayers’.

And Lib Dem councillor David Evans described the Sainsbury’s application as: “A supermarket Kendal doesn’t need, in a place it doesn’t want, and at a cost the town cannot bear. “ 

The Sainsbury’s store was passed seven to five by opposition Tories with support from Labour.

The Lib Dems lost their majority on the planning committee when five party members did not attend for the vote. 

The five were Sheila Eccles, David Fletcher, Gill Gardner, Heidi Halliday and David Ryder. They cited illness, family commitments, work and a prior personal commitment.

The Sainsbury’s deal still needs to be ratified by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

The supermarket cannot move in until Kendal RUFC has its new ground and clubhouse up and running - possibly three years away.

Sainsbury’s must also hand over £1.1 million for improvements, including:

* £208,000 for paving, streetlights and signage between the railway station at Longpool and the town centre

* £365,000 for bus service increases and cycleways

* £250,000 to improve road junctions to the store

* £250,000 to improve Shap Road around the store entrance 

Dr Stephen Green, for KRUFC, said planning permission existed for a new ground at the Strawberry Fields site on Oxenholme Road, but the club may consider other sites.

“Part of what we will do now over the next few months is harden up our plans,” said Dr Green.

He explained that the existing rugby club buildings, built in the 1960s, were too small, its roof leaked and its changing rooms were unsuitable for men’s, mini, youth and ladies teams.

“We won’t be moving off Mint Bridge until everything is playable,” said Dr Green.

“I have had several people come back to me saying how delighted they are and commiserating over how long this has taken.”

Paul Foster for the Federation of Small Businesses said: “We would want to ensure that both K Village and Sainsbury’s do not remove footfall from the town centre.

Derek Armstrong, for Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Sainsbury’s will create competition between existing supermarkets and this should benefit customers. Kendal has done well to attract this ‘higher end’ store at a time when not all supermarkets are in growth mode.”

In terms of traffic, a ‘travel assessment’ predicts 4,000 vehicles will visit Sainsbury’s every weekday and 5,600 a day at the weekend – the equivalent of 32,000 visits per week. 

Councillors were told the new supermarket, with a 500-space car park and six petrol pumps, would be bigger than Kendal’s Asda, Morrisons and Booths. 

Coun Janette Jenkinson for the Tories, said: “I think it will bring benefits to Kendal and enhancements to the town.”

But Coun Sylvia Emmott, for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I’m sorry, I don’t often go against the officers’ recommendation but on this occasion I will.”

Council planners ruled out the idea of Sainsbury's going to Canal Head after pointing out that Meal Bank Properties had said the 'Castle Mills site is no longer available for development’.

They also scotched ideas that Sainsbury's could go in K Village citing the residential properties above the centre and servicing difficulties at the rear.


SAINSBURY’S said they were delighted to finally win planning permission for a new store in Kendal.

“This store will see the investment of £1.1 million in infrastructure in Kendal, create up to 350 new full and part-time jobs and improve choice for local people,” said a spokesperson.

But Vanessa Brennand, 48, who runs nearby Whitestiles Garage and Convenience Store with husband Patrick, was disappointed.

“Do we need another supermarket in town?” We could do with having more shops in the town centre than more supermarkets," she said.

Chris Rowley, of the Westmorland Lonsdale Green Party said: “The Sainsbury’s application went through because 50% of Lib Dem councillors didn’t show up to vote. This was a crucial decision whose appalling legacy will remain with us for decades.”

The Westmorland and Lonsdale Lib Dems said: “What is really important to stress is that it can’t be assumed all these councillors would have voted against. 

"It is against the rules to have a party line or whip on these issues.”

Steve Hardiman, 51, who lives near the site, believes the jobs created will not replace ones potentially lost because of Sainsbury's.

“How much choice do people need?" he said. 

"There isn’t a product Sainsbury’s sell that you can’t already get in town. People don’t come to Kendal to visit supermarkets they come here for the Lake District and the independent shops – and there’ll be hardly any left after this.”

Builder Martin Cox, 39, of Shap Road, lives within feet of the supermarket site. “I think it’s a great idea, we do have a few supermarkets but it will bring a few jobs in.” 

Dr Stephen Green, for Kendal RUFC, said: “This has been looked at by professionals and it was found that there is sufficient room for another supermarket.”


THE removal of planning restrictions has thrown a much-needed lifeline to Kendal’s troubled K Village, according to the man responsible for finding new tenants for the complex’s vacant units.

Simon Adams, a director of agents Peill and Co, said the planning conditions imposed in 2005 had “tied our hands” when it came to attracting retailers to the £100m shopping centre.

But following the lifting of conditions by South Lakeland District Council, the riverside complex can host a far greater range of stores – not just factory outlets and chains selling end-of-line stock.

Planning approval for the changes was granted after K Village’s administrators told the authority such trading restrictions would never have been imposed under current market conditions because it would have “made the scheme unviable”.

Mr Adams believes the change now presents an opportunity to market the units to local and regional retailers as well as national brands.

He also says it could open up leisure-use opportunities.

Currently around half the K Village units are empty. But Mr Adams said his company had “been in discussions” with a number of retailers who had expressed interest in the vacant stores. 

“Removing planning conditions should assist us enormously,” he said.

“The outlook for K Village is much more optimistic. We have had our hands tied by the restrictions but now we can market the units much more widely. Not just national chains, but local and regional retailers.

“The planning change means we can also explore leisure-use at K Village and I have in my mind the possibility of a really good restaurant. Certainly the riverside location makes it ideal for such a use.”

Units at the centre range from around 500 sq feet up to 4,500 sq feet.

“If necessary, we also combine units,” said Mr Adams.


IT was a momentous day for Kendal as two long-running retail decisions were put to bed on the same day. 

Both debates saw strong exchanges across the council chamber about the potential effect on Kendal’s independent traders.

Statistics provided by Sainsbury’s forecast that the new store will ‘divert’ trade worth £1.94m from Booths in Kendal, £750k from Marks and Spencer, £280,000 from Iceland and £260,000 from what was described as ‘other destinations’.

And while some councillors argued it was necessary for K Village to be given another chance to succeed, others were less keen, saying the owners, Kendal Riverside, had escaped important obligations.

After the debate, reporter GILES BROWN asked local shopkeepers for their thoughts.

Robert Marsden, of Marsden Brothers Butchers, in Old Shambles Yard, said: “I am not sure whether Sainsbury’s will have any effect on the town centre.

"I think to a large extent people who go to the likes of Asda and Morrisons are already going out of town. I think that K Village may have more of an effect because if shops relocate out there then you may end up with empty units in the town centre and it makes it less attractive.”

Jill Hodgson, manager of Fresh Look Perfumes, in Finkle Street, said: “I think that the Sainsbury’s could affect Morrisons, but because we are an independent and we sell a lot of stuff that nobody else sells in town I think if anything it might be beneficial for us.

"I think K Village might help because people will go to see what’s there and then come into the centre of town as well.”

Andy Dobson, owner of Dobson’s Fruit and Vegetables, in Highgate, said: “I think the Sainsbury’s will have an effect on the big stores, I don’t think it will affect us. We already have a lot of big supermarkets here and so one more won’t make any difference for us. We have always done all right.”

Shaar Dixon, owner of Kendal Alternative Nutrition, in Old Shambles Yard, said: “The supermarket will stop people coming into town, especially if they put in a lot of parking and other things. I think it depends what they sell, for instance, if Booths starts selling certain things then we notice it here. If people can get most of what they need out of town then that does affect us.”

Gill Chaldecott, manager of Market Place Books, said: “Anything that is likely to pull our potential customers onto the edge of town isn’t good and I worry that the centre of town will become somewhere where people come to pass the time rather than do their shopping.”