Supermarket may consider closing if delivery route restrictions not changed (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Sainsbury's calls on Epping Forest District Council to relax delivery route restrictions for its Debden branch
A WELL-USED supermarket is considering closing its doors if restrictions on its lorry delivery routes are not relaxed.
Retail giant Sainsbury's is trying to win permission for the removal of district council-imposed restrictions which prevent it taking lorries through built-up areas in Epping Forest.
The firm claims the planned redevelopment of the Langston Road depot site into a retail park would see the layout of the Chigwell Lane and Broadway junction changed, meaning its lorries could no longer approach its Debden store from the south as required by the delivery rules.
In a presentation to councillors last month, representatives said the chain would be forced to consider closing the Torrington Drive branch if it did not win concessions.
Loughton Broadway councillor Leon Girling said a fall in business at the store, along with a lack of upkeep of the surrounding area, had also led to Sainsbury's contemplating the move.
At a district council meeting last night, he told members: "This store serves local elderly and disabled residents who are unable to travel to Loughton or Epping to complete their weekly shopping.
"I was surprised by the way experienced members responded to Sainsbury’s comments and implied they were ‘fine’ if the store was to close."
He called on the council to lift delivery restrictions and suggested a 12-month pilot to test the new routes.
"If that doesn't happen I want 100 per cent assurance that they will source another supermarket to take over the plot," he added.
"I'm a new councillor who's very protective of the area in which I live.
"Our disabled residents and elderly residents, they need a local amenity to go to."
Jennie Figgins, 62, who lives in Torrington Drive, said the closure of the store would be a 'big loss' for the large number of elderly people nearby.
She said: "Where I live there are an awful lot of older people there and I think they would find it very, very difficult if that small Sainsbury's went.
"They wouldn't be able to get to the Loughton store, not comfortably."
Cllr Anne Grigg, the cabinet member for economic development, said a Section 106 requirement meant Sainsbury's was required to keep the Debden store open until 2013.
She added "Neither members nor officers can give a guarantee, but J Sainsbury still regards their presence as important and the council is aware that there is still interest from other supermarkets."
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: "There is an historic legal obligation on our Waltham Point depot restricting our lorries from taking the most direct route through Epping Forest to our Debden store.
"As such, the only legal way to approach the store is from the south using the M25 and M11 to Redbridge roundabout.
"The recent planning consent granted by EFDC to redevelop their depot site at Langston Road would see the layout of the Chigwell Lane/The Broadway junction changed. This would effectively mean that Sainsbury’s lorries could not approach the store from the south.
"This, combined with the legal obligation on Waltham Point, would mean it would no longer be possible to service the store.
"Sainsbury’s has no issue with the principle of redeveloping the depot site at Langston Road and has sought to address the issue of servicing our store with the council.
"However, we have not received positive reassurance that the historic agreement at Waltham Point will be changed. As such, we have no choice but to challenge the council’s decision to grant planning permission at Langston Road."
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