Malmesbury Chamber of Commerce – Supermarket Meeting
News and Announcements - Sainsbury's / Waitrose
Saturday, 26 November 2011 17:12
Malmesbury Chamber of Commerce – Supermarket Meeting
21st November 2011, 6pm at The King’s Arms, Malmesbury.
Ruth Jeffrey’s Notes
Paul Baker, Chairman of Malmesbury Chamber of Commerce introduced the meeting.
Three representatives attended and the presentation was given by Bruno Moore. In his introduction, he referred to the high quality town centre that we currently have here in Malmesbury and that it would be their intention to assist with rather than impose a solution for the town centre.
So far, Sainsbury’s have three stores in north Wiltshire, i.e. Wootton Bassett, Calne and Chippenham and they want to increase this number. The site allocated for Malmesbury is a brown field site that’s already allocated in the existing development plan.
The Wiltshire Retail Study has identified a need, in that people currently travel away from Malmesbury for their weekly shop.
The store they’re proposing for Malmesbury is 30,000 square feet (the comparable new store at Odd Down, Bath is slightly smaller but comparable). Buildbase will relocate from their current site in a residential area. The proposal is for a ‘mixed use’ scheme. Sainsbury’s will apply for full planning permission for their store and outline planning permission for the additional employment units. They will also input the road infrastructure.
Meetings have been held between Sainsbury’s and the parish council, as well as the community. Over 700 people attended their exhibition and the majority were said to be in favour of the development. 56% of residents (attendees?) to date have expressed support for Sainsbury’s. 93% supported brown field development first. 72% supported a reasonably priced petrol station. 61% supported bus service links between town and store. 39% supported cheaper parking.
Support was greatest for 1: improvement to the road junction; 2: increased choice for shoppers, and 3: a new petrol station.
The greatest concerns were over the impact on the existing petrol station, the increase in commercial traffic and the impact on the town centre.
Management of the town centre
What will the impact be?
What can be done to offset it?
“We do trade alongside other petrol stations. Chippenham is a case in point.”
There will be four main deliveries by lorry per day, as well as vans. Buildbase will have 5 up to 10 lorries per day.
How can Sainsbury’s help the town centre?
Help prevent leakage to other towns
Provision of new bus service
Improvements to route to town centre
‘Gateway’ service, i.e. promote local events / visitor info.
Town Centre Management – a consultant may be available to work alongside the town, e.g. looking at funding, i.e. what can Sainsbury’s do to support events etc. Areas can be looked at, e.g. access.
Malmesbury has a high quality town centre now so Sainsbury’s will be enhancing an existing high quality environment.
Promotion and marketing
Year round events promotion
Floral displays, festive lights, parking.
Scheme is evolving
Engaging all parties
Planning application due to go in during December
Final plans will be shared with stakeholders and the community.
Q. If there is to be a detailed application for the store but only outline for the units, what sort of timescale are we looking at for those?
A. This will be down to commercial interest. Buildbase is known but the others are not. The applications will be for B1 / B2, not retail and they are in discussion with a number of parties.
Q. Can you offer a Section 106 agreement that would prevent a change of use re planning?
A. Will consider it.
Q. Why are these employment units so important?
A. They’re not.
Q. (Jonathan Knee, Knees) New Trowbridge store – neighbouring units weren’t let so were incorporated into the store.
A. The units didn’t let so as they already had retail use approved, it made sense to knock through into them.
Q. What impact will Sainsbury’s have on the town centre? How can we be expected to believe anyone will get on a bus at Sainsbury’s and travel to the town centre?
A. Examples. Case studies, e.g. Wombourne, West Midlands was England’s largest village. Sainsbury’s had a positive impact there.
Q. You’ll be selling the same stuff. This will finish off the High Street (NB. lots of verbal support for the town).
A. Happy to engage with local traders. Out of centre store – has to demonstrate lack of impact. Majority are doing shop elsewhere, e.g. Tewkesbury. The key is the link to the centre.
Comment: Food only offering would provide reassurance.
Q. Comment on importance of tourism in Malmesbury. What will Sainsbury’s do to promote the town centre, e.g. 200k towards promotion?
A. Various things including a printed map board in reception, amongst other things. Section 106 figures have to be proportionate but 200k is certainly within the remit of similar proposals.
Q. What will be sold – or not sold?
A. Clothes (women and children), papers, electricals and cookware will be sold and there will be a café. There will be no concessions. It’s a foodstore (NB. This statement caused some debate amongst those in attendance).
Q. Will there be any limits on your car parking?
A. No, there will be no car parking limits.
Q. Have you had any contact with Gleeson?
Q. Have Sainsbury’s made any payments to the Conservative Party in the last 12 months?
Q. Would your development go ahead without the possible extra housing?
A. Absolutely. Sainsbury’s won’t build a store based on proposals.
Q. Would you accept a restriction on concessions?
A. Yes, happy to accept this so no pharmacy and no Post Office.
Q. In a similar town with similar supermarket, a quiet town centre and a busy supermarket had been observed as the trend at peak times. What do we, as traders, do if we are impacted?
A. It won’t get to that.
Response. Yes it will!
Q. If you are being sympathetic, would you consider a food only store?
A. We would accept some restrictions but people come to Sainsbury’s to do their food shop.
Q. It was suggested that the weekly shop goes elsewhere currently but it’s the loss of the ‘daily’ shop that puts the town centre at risk.
A (Paul Baker): We can use this opportunity to really get something out of this (for the town).
Cllr Killane asked for a vote on for or against, which resulted in 1 for, the vast majority against and a small number abstaining.
Four reps were present (from the developer, Simons and from Waitrose)
Simons is a family business with 300 employees throughout the UK. They are a developer and contractor (unusual to do both) so would design and build the new store, which Waitrose would take ownership of once completed. The key to their design is integration into the town.
Jonathan Banner from Waitrose gave the background (of Waitrose), explaining that they’ve got 270 stores at the moment and have been looking to open a store in Malmesbury for the last two years. They believe their site is the best location to link with the High Street.
The store would be 18,000 square feet with a small café and ATM. They are already working with local suppliers such as Tracklements and Taylerson’s syrups.
Waitrose support local charities and they are then chosen in store by customers via the tokens scheme. Partners (employees) of Waitrose can also apply to work with charities for a period of time whilst on full pay.
As part of ‘The Waitrose Effect’ approach, Waitrose would provide signage to promote the town and an example at Wimbourne Minster was provided. Also, in their new Exeter store, they’ve produced a town guide with a plan of the town to aid promotion of the town centre. They would like their branch manager to be part of the Chamber of Commerce.
Regarding architecture, the new development has been designed to be as close as possible to the town centre. In line with the planners’ requirements, they have made the scheme as hidden and inconspicuous as possible. Steps and a ramp will provide pedestrian access to the town centre. Key views were also taken into account, following discussions with planners to ensure the visible impact was minimized, making the store almost become part of the landscape when viewed from off-site locations (when inside the car park you would see the glass face of the store).
The next representative started by saying he was impressed by the attendance both at the public meeting and at the exhibition.
Proximity to the Avon Mills is difficult but they’ve now revised the car park away from the mills to help ease the impact, particularly during the winter months.
A priority junction, along with an extension of the 30mph limit, would be introduced. Also, a gated feature with traffic islands (bollards) would be introduced close to the entrance to encourage slowing of traffic. On the town centre side, an additional bus stop would be introduced on the store side, where a new pavement would be installed to link the town centre route with the pedestrian access to the Waitrose site.
Waitrose had initially wanted to provide 200 car parking spaces with a 2 hour limit and 50 additional spaces for long stay use but now Wiltshire Council want to see it as one car park with the same pricing as the rest of the town. However, Waitrose have not agreed to this and they’re open to discussion.
Ultimately, Waitrose believe there will be interaction with the town.
Their planning application is due to be submitted on December 19th, although this is subject to change.
Q. Parking – how will this be managed?
A. Barrier system; will be charged and refunded for shoppers in-store.
Q. What will your opening hours be?
A. Typically, 8am – 9pm, six days a week and 6 hours on Sunday between 10am and 5pm.
Q. What deliveries should be expected?
A. Two before 8am and two more throughout the day.
Q. At the public meeting, there was a unanimous ‘no’ to whether we wanted a café and now you say there will be one. How come?
A. We did listen and whilst it’s still something we would like to do, it’s not set in stone.
Q. Could the car parking ticket validation be made available in the town centre?
A. Expensively, but yes in theory.
Q. What about impact on water supply?
A. The planning application will have to include addressing of water and drainage issues.
Q. Can 106 agreements be ring-fenced?
A. If Waitrose run the car park (Wiltshire Council don’t want to), money will be Waitrose’s and they will liaise with the town as to how to put it back into the town.
Q. (Warren Hateley) What about electricity supply (following recent, regular blackouts)?
A. Suppliers will take their own measures to ensure supply and the store probably won’t get off lightly!
Q. If permission is given to both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, what would happen then?
A. It’s very unlikely that the council would approve two stores as the retail study doesn’t identify a need for two stores.
Statement. (Knees): Jonathan Knee is resigned to them coming so surely it’s down to how we can get the best out of them.
Simon Killane: We mustn’t disempower ourselves.
J Knee: They will change their plans time and time again until they’ve satisfied the council’s need and they won’t be able to legally say no to the development.
Statement: It’s about how to get the most out of it as we can’t stop the proposals.
Q. Aimee Frankham: Store size comparison. How are you (Waitrose) sure that your store is large enough, as the Sainsbury’s store would be nearly twice as big?
A. Through the catchment area and recognised retail study. The store is large enough for a weekly shop with 15-16k lines in store. It will be a food store with 15% non-food items.
Q. Aimee Frankham: What kind of footfall and spend?
A. 10,000 shoppers a week.
Q. Where will customers come from?
A. The majority will be within 10 minutes’ drive. At the moment, Malmesbury experiences pretty much the greatest leakage of shoppers from any town they’ve ever looked at.
Q. Co-op appear to perceive Waitrose as the least threat. Is that correct?
A. (Relevant quotes brought up earlier; info boards, car park etc.), i.e. positive impact on town.
Q. (Andrew Carnegie) Would it be feasible to put a ‘fighting fund’ in place to reassure traders, via Chamber?
A. The manager will want to be part of the discussion process.
Q2. (Andrew Carnegie) Would £500k be feasible?
A2. The only legal way to make a significant financial contribution would be through a Section 106 agreement, through the local council and Chamber of Commerce. A town centre management fund was suggested.
Q. Are 50 long stay parking spaces guaranteed?
A. Wiltshire Council want it all to be a Waitrose car park with charge back.
Q. Will the store car park be closed out of hours?
A. Yes, it’s a shoppers’ car park, which will be open around 30 minutes either side of opening hours. The town centre car park is of course free after 6pm.
Q2. Free and full!
A2. It’s down to Council policy that’s been introduced just a couple of days ago.
Cllr Killane: Must look into the policy limitations.
Q. How can Waitrose be forced by Wiltshire Council to charge for car parking? Can’t be!
A. (SK) This is why we need to get clarification.
A2. It’s new policy
Q3. Can it be challenged?
A3. (SK) Yes
Q4. Where do funds go?
A4. Waitrose. (followed by debate over costs and benefits to the town)
Cllr Killane called a vote to ask who was in favour of the Waitrose development. The majority of hands went up. When asked who opposed the development, no hands went up. It appeared that a minority abstained.
Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Paul Baker followed up the vote with the suggestion that Waitrose are invited back to discuss further at a later date.
Cllr Killane: We must undertake a robust assessment over Wiltshire Council policy, to clarify things.
Q. Request for clarification over pedestrian access.
A. Steps, pavement following natural rise of the terrain, a bus stop and low-key crossings to be as unobtrusive / sympathetic to the entrance to the town as possible.
Q2. We need a proper crossing as it’s difficult to cross.
A2. Ok, will take into consideration.