Objectors join forces to oppose supermarket plan

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

MORE than 1,000 written objections have been submitted to a council over proposals to build a supermarket on the outskirts of Stokesley.

The objections have been lodged with Hambleton District Council over plans to create a new food store and petrol station on farm land adjacent to the A172, on the edge of Stokesley.

Many residents and business-owners in the town fear the supermarket will have a devastating impact on the High Street, which is composed largely of independent retailers.

They are amongst the hundreds of people who have emailed or written to Hambleton District Council to formally submit their objection before the council’s planning committee makes a decision on whether to allow the development to go ahead.

Those campaigning under the Save Our Stokesley (SOS) banner recently conducted a survey of businesses and market traders in the town centre, which revealed the vast majority feared the knock-on effect for trade throughout the High Street.

SOS say the impact would not only be felt on food retailers, but other traders as shops potentially closed and made the town less appealing to shoppers.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Teesside and North Yorkshire has also reiterated the feared impact on Stokesley’s many independent retailers. It is calling on Hambleton District Council to reject the plans, saying the supermarket will have a huge impact on the vitality of the local area.

Michael Janes, chairman of the Teesside branch of the FSB, has said the developers’ impact study which estimates Great Ayton retail shops will lose £500,000 in turnover and Stokesley £2.8m is a “low estimate” and felt the impact would be felt much wider.

Developers Terrace Hill have said the store will ensure greater retention of spending in the area as shoppers stayed within Stokesley to do their weekly shop and will create more than 140 new full and part-time jobs and additional jobs during construction.

A survey carried out on behalf of Terrace Hill appeared to show 52 per cent of respondents supported the need for another supermarket in Stokesley. But SOS group is now querying the telephone research, which was carried out to gauge local response to the supermarket.

SOS say developers Terrace Hill agreed to show data from their original telephone survey which showed of the survey of 600 residents, only 95 were from Stokesley. A total of 300 respondents were from the Great Ayton, Stokesley, Swainby and Hutton Rudby area, but roughly 102 were from areas including Helmsley, Danby, Kirbymoorside and Morton-on-Swale.

Stewart Brennan, from SOS, said: “The telephone survey was the original research by the developers which appeared to support the need for a supermarket; 52 per cent of people questioned across the whole survey appeared to support an additional food store provision in Stokesley.

“But it shows that only 95 of the 600 people covered by the survey lived in Stokesley.”

A spokesman for the developers said: “Terrace Hill used the standard sample size for a retail impact assessment, covering the zones which were recommended by the Local Authority as per their perceived catchment area for the proposed store.”

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