The fight goes on…………

When starting to write this record, I had just learned that Asda had bought this site, and I – like my neighbours – thought as my title suggests that things would be better, as we all held the impression that Asda operated and maintained their sites in a people-friendly – not just customer-orientated – manner; that although they are a very large multinational company they retained certain standards of environmental responsibility, ethics and concerns for neighbouring areas. Over the last twelve months, we have been brutally disillusioned, and now know beyond a shadow of a doubt the dearth of honesty and integrity that has been and continues to be shown by Asda.

 Currently, another application (81213/VAR/2013) is awaiting comments and decision – this is to allow a variation of condition, relating to the landscaping and planting therein. The associated site plan clearly specifies the type and genus of plants that Asda intend to instal along the boundary wall by my house. Apart from the existing shrubbery which is to be retained, the proposal specifies seven Hedera Hibernica evenly spaced along the wall, with three Skyrocket Juniper evenly interspersed. The Skyrocket Juniper is labelled “2m high.”

 Hedera Hibernica is described as “an evergreen climbing plant, growing to 20–30 m high where suitable surfaces (trees, cliffs, walls) are available. It may be a noxious weed or be invasive.

Skyrocket Juniper has an “Ultimate height of 4-8 metres and Ultimate spread 0.5-1 metres”, while its “Foliage may cause skin irritation”……

Asda has been repeatedly told, with the greatest emphasis, and the Planning Department and Planning Development Committee have also been clearly told that we do not want and will not accept any structure and/or plants higher than the existing wall – on each and every occasion that the boundary area has been discussed, all parties have been made undeniably aware that the requirements are for close-formed and dense shrubbery, forming a wide barrier but not exceeding the height of the wall. These proposals can only be construed as a deliberate and intended refusal to comply with or even acknowledge the wishes of the residents.

 The Site Management Plan follows the pattern of errors, incorrect information and contradictory statements. The shop is described as a “kiosk comprising a small Asda convenience store” – while not a superstore, it is more accurately described as a mini-supermarket. A footnote referring to the lockers states that one “is a back-up locker which is only for use should one of the other lockers fail.” This has never been previously stated or disclosed, but only a couple of days ago, emptying/replenishment of all eight lockers was pictured. Stated timings of fuel deliveries (present and forthcoming) are totally untrue – again recorded – and similarly, claims that deliveries –whether fuel and groceries or all groceries – do not overlap are also untrue. Such are not frequent, but not uncommon – on rare occasions, three assorted deliveries have coincided.

 In the attempt to justify the loss of two – or three? – parking spaces, Asda now openly admit that “The amount of Click & Collect transactions are relatively minimal…” – surely this justifies the removal of the lockers?

 On page 14 it is shown that the last application specified 8 car parking spaces, 1 disability space and 2 motorcycle spaces – the current proposed plans show 6 car parking spaces (one of which reserved for air/water), 1 disability space and no motorcycle spaces. As Asda have never provided truthful and accurate details on this point alone, no credence should be given to this latest claim.

One additional item that has only now been acknowledged and considered in this latest application is that of the traffic problems caused by this development. This road and the roads served by the nearby light-controlled crossroads are extremely busy at all times of all days, and the entrance to the petrol station also serves as the entrance and exit to a large office block next door. Previously, while the Total petrol station was a busy and successful site (for forty-two years!) no problems arose as it was primarily a fuel supplier. Since Asda upgraded the small shop to a supermarket, this together with the collection lockers, the massive increase in delivery vehicles and the increase in fuel customers (due to their cut-throat pricing), there has been a massive increase of traffic into and out of this site – such that it is extremely common for traffic to queue back to the crossroads in one direction, with a queue forming in the opposite direction across the road – subsequently blocking other traffic wishing to pass by, and also blocking access to and from the office block. Frequent instances of “road-rage” have been seen and heard, frequently pedestrians (including children from the nearby school) have to walk into the road as vehicles are across the pavement waiting to enter, or have nearly been struck by vehicle attempting to enter. This latest application includes a proposal to place yellow hatching (junction-style) markings across the entrance – this, if obeyed, will only alleviate pedestrians’ passage and the office block access – it does not remove the inevitability of a major traffic collision. This is yet another ineffectual attempt to paper over the cracks of a disastrous development failure.

 While this development (in its earliest form) was initiated last summer, and the subsequent amendments – together with the ensuing battles – are still continuing, Asda had also cast their eyes toward another nearby location, and in December 2012 news appeared in the local media that they intended to build a 40,000 sq ft Asda store (with petrol station) about three miles away in Broadheath, Altrincham. Much was made of the fact that surveys demonstrated a wide support for such a project, and Asda duly submitted an application (79984/FULL/2013) on 11th February. Strangely, although later asked at two separate meetings about this, Mr. Bartram denied that this plan even existed. Letters published in the local media from people in the Altrincham/Sale area appeared to be roughly balanced for and against, but little further was heard until mid-July, when Asda’s application (and a similar application for a nearby Morrisons) was turned down following Trafford Planning Department’s recommendation.

 Just two weeks later, following threats from Asda of legal action, Trafford Planning and Development Committee undertook to review this decision – and subsequently voted to approve Asda’s application, although the refusal of Morrisons’ application stood…..

 It is evident that Asda have not the slightest concern for public safety or well-being, local environmental issues, residential amenities or any other civilised and reasonable considerations, but have and will resort to lies, deception, misrepresentation and even threats to obtain their targets. From both current times and past history, it would also appear that  the Planning Department have almost always taken the path of least resistance to or actively assisted the owners and operators of this site, regardless of whether this permitted breaches of conditions or original refusals.

 As they have seen fit to grant Asda a superstore and petrol station in Broadheath, the Planning Department and Committee should now find and use any and every means possible to force Asda to remove these lockers and restore the shop back down to its original status as described in the Design and Access Statement for application 78835/FULL/2012 - “The primary purpose of the existing and proposed arrangement of the shop is to take customer payment once re-fuelled. The retail space also vends newspapers, ice cream, hot and cold drinks and cold snacks.”

This would be a just and fitting act.


19 August 2013.


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