WAITROSE is on its way to Worcester after plans to build the city’s first store were given the green light.
The £20million scheme to create a 40,000 sq ft store on London Road secured planning permission at a meeting of Worcester City Council’s planning committee last Thursday (July 24).
The former Trinity Printing Works site will make way for the store, which is expected to generate more than 200 jobs, and 285 parking spaces.
Although the scheme, which was put forward by developer Opus Land, was unanimously approved by councillors, the meeting did spark a debate over traffic congestion.
Bob Pender, from Worcestershire County Council’s highways department, said two surveys had been carried out which estimated how many seconds extra motorists would face on London Road if Waitrose was in place.
The research found it would take 19 seconds longer to travel towards the city and 27 seconds longer when heading out of Worcester, which Mr Pender said would increase by another 46 seconds by 2020.
However, Coun Richard Boorn, councillor for Nunnery, said he did not believe the statistics reflected an area which already generated high volumes of traffic.
“When you talk about the increase of 73 seconds by 2020 it is all based on the assumption that the travelling time is acceptable now,” he said. “But I for one don’t think that it is.
“I think this area is treated with utter contempt when it comes to thinking about its residents.
“This development in conjunction with the other developments that are going to happen and are being proposed will have a detrimental effect on people.”
Coun Paul Denham said he was also “sceptical” of the statistics, but he insisted they had nothing better to base their decision on, while Coun Robert Rowden said: “It does occur to me that many people will go to more than one supermarket on the same day, so the extra car going to that location will probably be one less going somewhere else, so I don’t think there are traffic grounds against it.”
Coun Geoff Williams added: “Here is a major investment by a major retailer in the city, so we should welcome it as it is good news for Worcester.”
The decision means work on the store will start later this year, with Waitrose expected to be open by autumn next year.
Richard Smith, managing director of Opus Land, said: “We are obviously delighted with the result which is a culmination of a team effort between firstly Waitrose and Opus Land and secondly Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council, who have worked together to achieve this positive and well researched result.
“When I first met Duncan Sharkey, managing director of the City Council, he stated they were ‘open for business’. He has proved that is the case and Worcester should be very proud of their positive and hard working officer’s at the City Council.”