Store is given go-ahead

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COUNCIL chiefs have given the green light for a new supermarket to be built – despite recommendations for the plans to be dropped.

Hartlepool Council’s planning committee voted seven to three in favour of developers building a new £700,000 Sainsbury’s store on the site of the former Station Hotel, in Station Lane, Seaton Carew.

The pub would be demolished to make way for the store.

The committee heard concerns about the economic impact on traders at the nearby Elizabeth Way and Jutland Road shops, as well as residents’ fears about traffic problems near the site.

The committee received 20 letters of objection and 52 of support, and council officers had recommended refusal of the application - which could create 20 new jobs - on the grounds of economic impact on local shops.

But after hearing that changes had been made to an initial application submitted last October that had been refused, the majority of councillors agreed to rubber-stamp the plans.

Councillors Marjorie James, Kevin Cranney and Hilary Thompson voted against the plans.

Work will now start within 10 to 12 weeks, and the supermarket could be open by late summer.

After the planning meeting, developer and owner of the site Jon Whitfield told the Mail: “I’m very pleased with the outcome.

“I do believe that Sainsbury’s will bring major benefits to the Seaton Carew area.

“It will give the people who live there the choice of where to shop.”

But resident Stuart Scott, who lives in Station Lane and was at the meeting, said increased traffic at the site would be “an accident waiting to happen”.

Retail expert John England, of England and Lyle planning consultants, spoke at the meeting on behalf of the owner of several Elizabeth Way shops.

He said afterwards: “I think that experience of these types of large types of development shows large convenience stores like this do actually harm the trade in small local shops.”

Seaton councillor Cath Hill, who is not on the planning committee but attended as a ward representative, told the meeting she had only received one letter in support of the development, and she had “lost count of the number of people opposed to it”.

She added: “The main reason that they use and one I agree with was the impact.

“I would be very concerned that we will end up with empty shops at Seaton Carew.”

But fellow Seaton councillor Paul Thompson said he had had lots of letters in favour of the application, and he commended Mr Whitfield for taking on board and amending original planning issues.

Mr Whitfield said the national chain opening the store would ensure “healthy competition” amongst other shops, and therefore better value for money.

He added that the new store would contain 80,000 sq ft of floor space, a fifth less than the original plan.

Other amendments include the development being one single site instead of two and traffic calming measures including a flashing speed sign.