TRADERS believe they have been “cheated” over a controversial plan to build a new Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Members of Llangollen Chamber of Trade and Tourism say if they had known the outcome of Denbighshire Council’s planning process they would not have supported the scheme in the first place.
They also accuse Sainsbury’s of “riding roughshod” over local opinion but the company has stressed it is keen to work with the community.
When details of the scheme to build a 20,000 sq ft food store on land currently occupied by the Dobson and Crowther printworks off Berwyn Street, Llangollen, were first revealed, the Chamber decided to support it on the understanding conditions would be imposed preventing a café being operated on the premises, that there would be no delicatessen or butcher’s counters, and that pedestrian access to the town from the supermarket car park would be changed.
Chamber chairman John Palmer stressed these stipulations when he made a short presentation to the planning committee as it considered the application last October.
The committee approved the plan subject to certain conditions but the formal certificate of decisions later indicated there would be no café permitted.
Soon afterwards the developers submitted an appeal against some of the conditions, including the one covering the cafe ban, and it became clear they were in fact seeking an extension of the original café area.
When it was considered last December, the planning committee decided to uphold the appeal despite another presentation from Mr Palmer objecting to the proposal on the basis the town stood to lose a considerable amount of passing trade.
Mr Palmer said: “In discussions with the developers before the application was submitted it was made very clear to them the chamber would object to a café as part of the development and we were led to believe it would not be included in the application.
“The reason for objection to a café was to protect existing café businesses in the town centre.
“The fact it was included but rejected as part of the committee’s original decision suggested the outcome was satisfactory.
“However, the results of the appeal now mean some of those businesses are vulnerable.”
Mr Palmer added: “Our members feel cheated and had they known the outcome of the café issue, would not have supported the original application.”
Andrew Sanderson, development manager for Sainsbury’s, said: “While Sainsbury’s has not been leading on this supermarket application, we met several local people including John Palmer during public consultation.
“We do not feel a small coffee bar in the supermarket would compete with the range of cafés in the town. Customers use our cafés while doing their food shopping, not as a destination.
“An independent retail consultant commenting on the planning application agreed a café is unlikely to be as attractive to most tourists as existing facilities, which we accept are primarily serving a tourist market.
“Sainsbury’s wants to work with the town and has already offered free marketing space in the store for use by local independent businesses.
“We want to encourage shoppers using the store to also make trips into the town to enjoy the hospitality Llangollen has to offer.”
A spokesman for Denbighshire Council said: “All of the planning applications relating to the food store development in Llangollen have followed a due process of consultation, assessment and determination by the elected members of the planning committee.
“Decisions have been made having regard to all representations received and in accordance with adopted planning policies and guidance.”