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Row over Shrewsbury Sports Direct plans continues

By Dominic Robertson | Meole Brace | News | Published:

The row over an out-of-town sport shop has continued with the owners of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres insisting councillors must have the final say on the plans.

The Sports Direct store at Meole Brace

Standard Life/UK CPT, the owners of the Darwin and Pride Hill shopping centres want Shropshire Council to reject a proposal for a new Sports Direct Store at Meole Brace Retail Park.

In the latest objection Carol McDade of Deloitte, writing on behalf of Standard Life, has also asked for strict conditions to be imposed if the store is approved – either that it must only operate as a Sports Direct, or that it must only sell sports or specialist outdoor pursuits products, or bulky goods.

Ms McDade also asks for the application to be determined by Shropshire Council’s central planning committee instead of being decided by planning officers under delegated powers.

She said: “I am writing to express serious concerns about the potential for the application to be determined under delegated powers.

“UKCPT/Standard Life’s position is that this is a major application which should be determined at planning committee. The town council has objected and together with ourselves raised material planning issues around the retail impact of the development on the town centre and transport issues.”

The application has faced a delay over concerns about the impact of the development on traffic.

Amended proposals have been submitted to address the issues, with a plan to create a third exit lane on the Hereford Road Roundabout.

The plans also include the removal of a pedestrian crossing, two speed bumps, and making an exit-only roundabout access from Sainsbury’s, two-way.

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Shropshire Council’s highways department has previously said that a second main entrance should be considered for the retail park in the long-term.

Shrewsbury’s Business Improvement District, which represents around 500 of the town’s businesses, has also objected to the plans for the store.

In a letter Seb Slater, executive director of the organisation, warned that approval of the store would undermine efforts to to draw investment into the town.

He said: “Shrewsbury BID would like to recommend the rejection of this proposal which is in direct competition with Shrewsbury town centre. It undermines the continuing efforts of the BID, its members and Shropshire Council to draw investment into the town.

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“Every loss of a high street retailer to an out-of-town park sets back our ambitions to create a town centre that responds to modern lifestyles: a multi-generational offer; a network of lively public spaces; playful or cultural experiences; a popular evening economy.”

Mark Saunders of Leeds-based NJL Consulting Planning & Development, has previously rejected the claims made by the owners of the Darwin and Pride Hill shopping centres.

Mr Saunders refuted a suggestion that the new stores would take trade from Shrewsbury’s town centre, saying that Deloitte had missed the mark with its comments.

In his letter to Shropshire Council, Mr Saunders said that Sports Direct had looked at opening a shop in Shrewsbury’s town centre but had always wanted to retain a presence on the retail park.

He said: “Suitable existing units meeting their size requirements were unavailable in the town centre.

“Sports Direct could consider an additional store opening if such a site were available to meet their requirements.”

He added: “The retail park does not compete with the town centre. In fact, the proximity and offer of Telford is the chief competition to Shrewsbury.”

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