Hadleigh: Morrisons set for January opening despite ongoing planning dispute

SUPERMARKET chain Morrisons, due to open a store in Hadleigh next January, is forging ahead with alterations to a car park despite an unresolved battle over planning permission.

At a Babergh District Council committee meeting yesterday, an application to widen an access road to the Calais Street plot – currently occupied by Buyright Stores – was approved. This was despite a last minute objection from rival chain Tesco, which has recently resubmitted an application to build a supermarket in Hadleigh town centre.

However, Babergh has taken so long to decide whether Morrison’s can legally expand the car parks at the retail site, the company has lodged an appeal against non determination, which is now scheduled to be heard at a public inquiry next February.

At the meeting, the council determined the stance it would take at the public inquiry. But planning consultant for Morrisons, Cara Ware, told the committee the work being carried out in the car park was covered by an earlier planning permission. She said: “The site already benefits from A1 planning permission and no further permissions are required.

“We have a certificate of lawfulness which proves that planning permission for the car park was granted in 2006 and the work that is currently being carried out at the site relates to that. It is with regret that we had to lodge an appeal, but due to a third party appeal, Morrison’s was forced into this position.”

Babergh case officer Gareth Durrant said the lawful status of the 2006 planning permission was “yet to be established”. He said no letters of complaint had been received from Tesco regarding the car park application, but that the rival firm had opposed the road-widening scheme and two alterations to the new Morrisons building which were subsequently withdrawn.

There are currently 325 car parking spaces at the site. Following completion of the extension and re-grading works, there would be about 417. Mr Durrant said the extension would enhance Morrisons’ trading performance, which could have an “adverse affect” on town centre trading.

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Councillor Clive Arthey said the retail application had grown in small ways since it was first submitted and there were fears that the car park extension could be a first step to “bigger” additions. He added: “Locally there’s word on the street that a petrol station is coming next. The points that Tesco are making are based on a series of events that we have to take notice of.”

Mr Durrant said Babergh would continue to work with Morrisons to resolve issues before the inquiry.