RETAIL giant Asda has threatened to withdraw from a multi-million pound supermarket scheme in Christchurch if two other major stores get the go-ahead at a crucial planning meeting tomorrow.

Developers Quantum issued the ultimatum just two days before the special planning meeting at Christchurch Borough Council which will decide on a scheme for Morrisons at Beagle on Stony Lane and a revised food store scheme for Meteor Retail Park in Somerford.

Both have been recommended for approval. It is the third time the Morrisons application, now revised, will go before councillors.

Quantum’s outline scheme for a food store at Bailey Drive was given permission last year.

In November, they revealed retail giant Asda would be opening at the former MOD site off Barrack Road.

Yesterday, it emerged the Bournemouth-based developers had delivered two large posters to each member of the planning committee detailing reasons why the two other schemes should be refused.

David Hines, CEO of Quantum Group, told the Daily Echo said: “If another supermarket is granted before Asda has even had the chance to put a spade in the ground, ASDA will withdraw and Christchurch will lose hundreds of jobs, 25 affordable new homes, the Bailey Bridge to the countryside, ferry access linking the town centre and West of Christchurch as well as £1million for The Christchurch Foundation Trust among many other community benefits.

“If these applications are granted, everything the community and the council have sought to create at Bailey Drive will be lost, as well as Christchurch’s beloved town centre.”

He said Asda were “dismayed” that Christchurch council would even consider it appropriate for the town’s economy to sustain three new supermarkets having only debated the potential of one more in 2013.

“No one would open a new bakery if several others opened at the same time and in the same area. It essentially renders a business unviable before it has even begun”, he said.

Rivals dismiss plans to scupper development

QUANTUM’S last-ditch attempt to scupper plans for two major supermarkets in Christchurch was dismissed by the rival developers.

The posters put out by Bournemouth-based developers Quantum, were delivered to planning committee members at their homes on Monday evening.

At Thursday’s special planning meeting, chaired by Cllr Colin Jamieson, councillors will decide on detailed plans for a Morrisons at Beagle on Stony Lane and a revised application for a food store at Meteor Retail Park off Somerford Road.

There is already permission for a food store at Meteor Retail Park, but the developers have applied to increase the size of the store by removing two other retail units.

David Hines, CEO of Quantum said: “Quantum Group last night openly hand delivered two summary documents to council members regarding the applications at Stony Lane and Meteor Retail Park.

“These documents illustrate that both applications fail to address a number of areas including a complete disregard for planning law, the inspectorate’s previous decisions or provide any new reason for the committee to change their previous decisions to refuse.

“These summary documents demonstrate, without doubt, that no planning data or information has changed since this authority, its officers and NLP consultants recommended refusal and defended its refusal of the Meteor Retail Park appeal.”

He said consent for either scheme would “destroy” the town centre.

Chris Newsome from Simons Group, speaking on behalf of Morrisons and Beagle said: “The council has worked very hard to ensure that Morrisons will not only help to safeguard and create jobs within the borough, enabling Beagle to continue to grow and create more high-skilled jobs for local people, but will also be a huge benefit to Christchurch bringing millions of pounds back to the actual High Street each year and improving the much needed highways on the A35.

“From the letters of support on file to the public exhibitions we have undertaken, the proposal is clearly popular with the vast majority of Christchurch residents.”

Tom Whitehead, speaking on behalf of Brookhouse, the applicants for Meteor Retail Park said: “The application is a minor change of the existing planning permission.

“The local community wants shopping choice on this side of town, and the jobs created would meet an acute local need."

No planning members were available for comment ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

Keith Mallett, head of legal and democratic services at Christchurch Borough Council, said: “This does not become a material consideration in the planning applications and members would attach no weight to it.”

How the supermarket schemes compare

Morrisons, Beagle, Stony Lane

  • 300 new supermarket jobs
  • 90 new positions at Beagle as well as safeguarding 80 existing jobs
  • £1million roadworks on Stony Lane and roundabout
  • £485,000 for Town Centre Action Plan

Quantum, Bailey Drive

  • Supermarket, health and fitness facility, children’s play park, open spaces, affordable housing. 
  • Create 300 jobs
  • Food store named as Asda
  • Christchurch Foundation Trust set-up giving £1million to community when food store opens
  • Outline permission granted

Meteor Retail Park, Somerford Road

  • Permission granted for food store with two other retail units.
  • Permission sought on Thursday for one large store
  • £500,000 for town centre fund

The Christchurch councillors who will be making the decisions on the supermarket schemes include chairman Colin Jamieson and vice-chairman Claire Bath.

Other members include Peter Hall, Paul Hilliard, Sue Spittle, Lesley Dedman, Myra Mawbey, Fred Neale, Lisle Smith, Tavis Fox and Trevor Watts.

Cllr Bath is portfolio holder for the economy.