COUNCILLORS threw out plans for a Morrisons supermarket in Christchurch tonight – for the third time.
A three-hour long meeting at Christchurch Borough Council saw the detailed scheme for the supermarket on the site of Beagle Technology in Stony Lane rejected, despite being recommended for approval by officers.
Wrangling over how members could reject the scheme on planning grounds, continued for more than an hour as councillors expressed concerns about the impact on the town centre and local conservation area.
Flooding issues were also raised as well as the impact of increased traffic on Castle Street, Bridge Street and in Purewell.
It is likely the applicants will appeal.
Cllr Claire Bath, portfolio holder for the economy proposed the rejection of the scheme, which would have allowed Beagle to relocate to premises in Christchurch.
She raised doubts over a retail report commissioned by the council, put together by Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, which said there will be 20 per cent of people visiting the store would then visit the town centre to spend money.
She said there was “no convincing evidence to show or support that 20 per cent of people visiting the store will make a trip to the town centre.
“I can’t see how we can base the future vitality and viability on evidence which is not robust enough.”
Many Beagle and Morrisons supporters spoke in favour of the scheme, with tensions rising throughout the meeting.
Representatives from supermarket schemes at Bailey Drive and Meteor Retail Park were also present, with Quantum, who have permission to build an Asda at Bailey Drive, speaking in opposition to the scheme.
The proposal to refuse was passed 7-2.
After the meeting, managing director of Beagle Technology Group, John Taylor would only say he was “very disappointed.”
A spokesperson for Simons Group, who is representing Morrisons said: “We are incredibly disappointed and disheartened, especially in light of the officer’s recommendation for approval and the phenomenal local support for our plans.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and discuss internally what our next steps are.
“We would like to thank everyone for support and will be in touch in due course.”
Julian Schaffer, managing director of Quantum said: “It was the right decision; the council have shown consistency because nothing had changed with the new application.
The important thing now is for everyone to work together for the good of the town.”
A decision on Meteor Retail Park was due to be rescheduled.