Businesses and environmental organisations have joined forces with residents from Skelton and East Cleveland to fight the planning application from Terrace Hill for the erection of a 24 hour out-of-town A1 retail store at Skelton.
The campaign is now backed by local and national groups of Friends of the Earth (FoE). It is understood that the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has also raised concerns in a letter to Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.
Campaigners have contacted Coastal View and Moor News with numerous concerns.
The location of the development and unnecessary loss of agricultural land.
Campaigners are concerned that many members of the public are unaware of the exact location of the development. The 2.4ha development site is not on the Skelton Industrial Estate but on agricultural land farmed by a tenant of the Skelton and Gilling Estates. There is currently a crop in the fields. Objectors argue that there is no need to build on green fields when there is other derelict land that could be regenerated.
The development site is earmarked for development for the extension of the Skelton Industrial Estate in the Council’s Local Development Framework. It has not, however, been designated for retail development. According to the planning application there are around 20 years of supply for Industrial Development and objectors cannot understand why there is a need to develop on agricultural land at the present time.
The out-of-town location is also a cause for concern. At present there is no bus route within the vicinity of the site and residents fear that other bus routes may be in jeopardy if a new bus service is introduced to service the new superstore.
The threat to businesses in Skelton, Saltburn, Brotton, Loftus, Marske, Guisborough and Redcar.
Sales forecasts for the new store are £26.9 million each year (£517 thousand per week) and the supermarket is expected to take 34% of the available expenditure in the Primary Catchment Area. Business owners in Skelton, Saltburn, Loftus, Marske, Guisborough and Redcar have expressed concerns over the impact on their businesses and the local High Streets.
“This one-stop-shop just off the by-pass will mean there’s no need for people to come into Skelton, Brotton or Saltburn high streets. It’ll kill Skelton High Street but no-one seems to care” said one business owner.
They are also concerned that some members of the public believe that only food will be sold in the store but want to clarify the definition of Class A1 Retail. This may include a post office, pharmacy, electrical goods, pet supplies, garden furniture, linen, hairdressing facilities and the direction of funerals.
Another trader explained; “A development of this scale will sell everything and this is sure to impact on all the local businesses.”
Some campaigners claim a moderate supermarket within the centre of Skelton may enhance the town by increasing footfall but an out-of-town development would decimate the high street and lead to a ‘virtual’ high street similar to Redcar.
One resident said, “I don’t think anyone would stand in the way of the regeneration of the derelict land behind Skelton High Street. It’s just so sad that some developers have come along and agreed to buy a huge area of farmland from Skelton & Gilling Estates and not thought about the poor farmer and local shopkeepers. In my opinion this development will help boost profits for a global retailer and not the communities in Skelton and East Cleveland.”
The size of the development.
The gross ground floor area is approximately 50,000 sq. ft, excluding the mezzanine floor. By way of comparison it is understood that the gross area of Sainsburys in Saltburn is close to15,000 sq. ft. Objectors argue that Skelton does not warrant a development of this magnitude particularly as Skelton does not have a secondary school or leisure centre. One resident expressed concerns that a request by the developer to make minor amendments to the plans without a new planning application may mean that the developer can extend the net sales area beyond the current planning application. They pointed out that the gross area maybe up to 100,000 sq. ft (50,000 sq. ft on the ground floor and 50,000 sq. ft on the mezzanine floor) if the plans were to change.
The omission of more suitable sites in the development application by Terrace Hill.
The developer identified and subsequently rejected several alternative sites in the Primary Catchment Area:
- Former Saltburn Junior School.
- Milton Street (Sainsburys) Car Park, Saltburn.
- South View Car Park, Loftus.
- Former Loftus United Reform Church.
- Skelton Fire Station and adjacent car park.
- Wharton Arms Public House, Skelton.
- Station Yard (North East Tyres & Exhausts), Brotton.
(The above is taken from the planning application)
Campaigners have expressed amusement and anger at the alternative sites, with one resident saying; “It’s a farce that the alternative sites the developers considered included Skelton Fire Station, The Wharton Arms and Sainsburys car park in Saltburn. Do they think the people of Skelton are stupid?”
Alternative sites proposed by several members of the public and Friends of the Earth include derelict land behind the Skelton High Street, the derelict brown-field land on Skelton Industrial Estate and land within the Church Hill development site.
Increased traffic and noise on a 24 hr basis.
Developer Terrace Hill estimates a maximum of 365 additional cars every hour on weekdays and 437 extra cars per hour on weekends. According to Friends of the Earth, however, a 7,000 sm store can generate 800 cars in and 800 cars out in just one hour on a Thursday morning (not the busiest day or time of day). The proposal is for a 4,625 sm gross store so, using the appropriate fraction, residents have calculated approximately 530 extra cars in and 530 cars out every hour at Skelton. The calculations do not account for future developments on the site purchased by Terrace Hill. One local said, “the developers say that the supermarket will reduce traffic but you’ll need a car to get there. Seriously, who’s going to walk home with heavy shopping bags from the new supermarket? It’s ridiculous!”
Information provided by Friends of the Earth indicates that a 7,000 sm store receives 60 delivery lorries per day. This equates to 40 delivery vehicles per day for the proposed superstore at Skelton. There are worries that congestion at the Apple Orchard junction may be exacerbated.
- Increased crime and anti-social behaviour.
- Loss of jobs.
- The unmanned petrol station. Business owners and residents are annoyed that Terrace Hill has promised many new jobs yet they plan on erecting an unmanned petrol station where customers have to use a debit or credit card. Elderly residents, in particular, have voiced their fury. One man said; “Why create a hoo-hah about creating lots of new jobs then plan to build a petrol station with no petrol attendants? I’m getting on a bit now and don’t have a credit card so won’t be able to use the new petrol station anyway.”
Here are some quotes we got from residents and business owners:-
“The car park near the Co-op in Skelton High Street is a disgrace! Instead of selling off farmland Wharton Estates should re-surface the car-park to encourage trade into the High Street. Lady Ringrose Wharton would never have left the car park in such a mess.”
“Why not build small grocery stores in each town / village to encourage people to shop locally? There’s an area in East Loftus that could be used just like the land behind the Church at Skelton.”
“There are acres of unused land on the Industrial Estate. I can’t believe the Council will allow a supermarket to be built on farmland. Talk about rubbing the farmer’s nose in it. Has someone taken a bung?”
“I thought they were going to build something like the petrol station on Guisborough by-pass. Is it not going to be on the Industrial Estate then? Why not?”
“I don’t think this development should go ahead but what’s the point trying to fight this? The developers and supermarkets will spend millions on lawyers and barristers so the ordinary person on the street doesn’t stand a chance. Developers don’t really care about the community, just results. Good luck though, you’ll need it!”
“I walk into the High Street several times a week to buy my groceries. I’m no spring chicken and there’s no way I could walk down to the Skelton-Brotton by-pass for my shopping. Why build a supermarket in the middle of no-where?”
“The Parish Council meeting was chaired by the Tory Councillor Mr. Carrolle who used to work for ASDA. He opened the meeting by saying ‘I recognise lots of you from the South Bank store – you soon won’t have to travel as far’. This was totally inappropriate. Surely he has a vested interest in this planning application. He shouldn’t have chaired the meeting or been allowed to vote.”
“The Parish Council meetings were embarrassing and a waste of time.”
We understand the planning application will be heard on September 1st.