Morrisons supermarket under fire for ‘abandoning’ Oswestry site
Supermarket bosses have been criticised for abandoning a site that was once part of a proposed £45 million leisure and shopping complex.
The land on the Old Smithfield on Shrewsbury Road in Oswestry was due to be developed into a 16-acre complex with a five-screen cinema, Morrisons supermarket, Frankie and Benny’s and McDonald’s restaurants.
However plans were shelved in early 2016 after Cineworld pulled out of the development and Morrisons, who lease the land from the town council, expressed concerns about an Aldi store being built on a nearby site.
After a meeting between the town council last year, the site was due to be re-marketed by the supermarket, but more than a year later there are still question marks over whether it will ever be developed.
County councillor Paul Milner is unhappy that no new information has come to light in the last year and has called the state of the site a disgrace.
He said: “I think the way they have left the site is utterly disgraceful.
“They have left it to overgrow and it is unsafe. It is the gateway into Oswestry, the first thing that everyone sees and it is not acceptable for it to look like that.
“It is not fair on the people of Oswestry, it is showing no respect for the people who live here by leaving the site like that.
“We have invited them time and time again to sit around a table with us and talk about how they will move forward but nothing has happened, it needs sorting because it is a disgrace.
“They’ve literally just abandoned the site.”
“They were the ones who have the leased it and they have an obligation to keep it looking tidy, safe and secure and tell us what is going on.”
Planning permission was granted in 2011, with the town council leasing the land to Morrisons and receiving £4 million in capital receipts from the development.
In 2015 work was completed on the new Smithfield livestock market, but after uncertainty in recent years no one is closer to knowing what will come of the rest of the site.
A statement from the town council said: “As a town council we are disappointed at the fact the land remains unused still. We have expressed our concerns on the condition of the land, and we will be inviting Morrisons to send a senior representative to see us in the Autumn to talk about the lack of progress and future plans.”
Despite the lack of action in recent years Councillor Milner is still confident something will eventually happen.
He added: “Hopefully something will happen with it, whether they end up developing it themselves or doing something else I don’t know.
“It is in a prime position to be developed, and I can see something happening with it we’ve just got no idea what that is.
“Morrisons are a big company and they should be respecting the land and the area.”
In March last year a meeting took place and it was agreed between Oswestry Livestock Auctions and the town council to change their agreement with Morrisons to enable the whole site to re-marketed.
At the time the council said the course of action would reduce the risk of it remaining unused for years, but at the moment it is still lying derelict.
Town councillor Peter Cherrington also voiced his opinion, adding: “Just yesterday I drove past and the grass was so high. They promised fences to go up there for it to look better but nothing has come of it.
“It is frustrating. At the time it was shelved there were financial issues with supermarkets but the industry is moving forward again now and hopefully that is a sign that we will see something happen.”
Morrisons were unable to comment.