We are aware that there is considerable interest in the reasons why Sainsbury’s have not yet started work on the Abbey Mill site. We hope this newsletter will provide you with some factual information.
IN THIS ISSUE:
• ‘Stopping up’ Station Road
• Audit commission and Winchester City Council
Many of you will know, or know of, John Hayter who throughout the last three years has fought his own battle to stop Sainsbury’s as an ‘outrider’ to the main campaign. Well, he has continued his activities and the following is an update on where he has got to…
‘Stopping up’ Station Road
As mentioned in Newsletter 34 (end March), in late February, the Secretary of State for the Department of Transport published a notice that she proposed to issue an order (under section 247 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) to stop up a length of Station Road. Anyone wishing to object had 28 days within which to do so. The notice highlighted the fact that the stopping up order would only be authorised to enable the development that had been granted planning permission under reference 10/01650/FUL (Sainsbury’s Superstore). The proposed Order comprises the whole of Station Road and the B2177 crossing but does not extend into St George’s Square. Objections could only be to this part of the permission, not the permission itself.
On 21st March John Hayter filed his objection to the Section 247 order with the Department of Transport (this is the objection mentioned in Newsletter 34).
The affected areas are the pedestrianised “Public Realm” or “Plaza” between the superstore and South Pond and the changes to Station Road where it meets the B2177 including the proposed Tucan crossing. This “Linkage Strategy” was designed to encourage Sainsbury’s customers to also visit and spend money in the town centre as a means of partially offsetting the trade the High Street is expected to lose. The plans rely on segregation of pedestrians and cyclists from traffic and landscaping to tempt shoppers to walk between the store and the town centre. Initial plans were judged by the Hampshire Architects’ panel and Hampshire County Council’s Highways department as insufficiently effective and likely to create traffic problems. Some changes were made at which point HCC Highways gave their support to the proposals. The Station Road changes are thus a key element in the planning permission.
As a result of John Hayter’s objections to the proposed Station Road highway changes, and following a number of exchanges of letters with Sainsbury’s Transport Planning Consultants and Sainsbury’s solicitors, the Department of Transport announced on 27th June that a Public Local Inquiry is to be held at a date and place not yet announced.
The planning conditions attached to Sainsbury’s planning permission require that development cannot start until the Order is approved. Hence the absence of any start yet being made to the development of the site. The timescale for when the Inquiry may be held is unknown.
Audit commission and Winchester City Council
John Hayter has also been active highlighting to the relevant authorities that, in his view, some of the Section 106 agreements between Sainsbury’s and Winchester City Council (WCC), involving payments totalling £248,124, are unlawful under Circular 05/2005 relating to the Town and Country Planning Act (1990).
We understand that as a result, the Audit Commission’s appointed auditor for WCC is to investigate these potential payments due to be paid by Sainsbury’s under the Section 106 agreement. The details of the Section 106 agreement were detailed in Newsletter 34 (end March).
We also understand that this stage is reached only after an elector has made a written objection sufficiently sound to persuade the auditor to exercise his discretion to require WCC to justify their actions.
We gather that the possible outcomes, in descending order of severity are:
• Application by the Auditor to the Courts for a declaration that items are unlawful.
• An Immediate Report in the public interest without waiting for completion of the audit
• A report in the public interest on completion of the audit that is usually around December.
• A mention (or not) in the usual audit report.
We understand that, in the public interest, in terms of cost, the Auditor would only go to the Courts if he could not otherwise persuade WCC to take requisite actions with the same effect. Public Interest reports have to be responded to by WCC and usually contain recommended actions. The outcomes could make it necessary or expedient for WCC to reconsider the decision in whole or part. Although neither the Courts, the Auditor nor WCC Cabinet can direct what the Planning Development Control Committee’s decision should be, what the Courts and/or auditor say would become a “material planning consideration” in reaching their decision.
It should be underlined that this is an audit of WCC, not Sainsbury’s, and as in all such cases there is no guarantee of any particular outcome.
In any event Sainsbury’s cannot start work until the outcome of John Hayter’s Section 247 objections (see above) to the Station Road changes is known.”
We hope this provides you with information on the most recent developments. We’ll be in touch with additional news and information shortly.