SUPERMARKET giant Asda says it is "shocked and disappointed" that Redditch Council officers have recommended that an application for a store in the town be rejected, after initially giving their backing.
The new Asda store would sit alongside a revamped B&Q store in Smallwood, and would create up to 400 new jobs.
The council’s planning committee is set to consider the application tomorrow evening, Wednesday, August 6.
An initial planning report by planning officers recommended that councillors grant permission for the planning application. But Asda says the report has now been changed – at the last minutes - to recommend refusal. The applicants have expressed their shock at this very sudden U-turn, which, they say, flies in the face of public opinion, substantial potential benefits and the council’s own initial views.
An Asda spokesman said as well as increasing choice and competition for local shoppers, it would deliver a huge economic boost to the area, through the creation of up to 400 new jobs. In addition, the existing B&Q jobs on site would all be retained, bringing a further boost to many local households who are still facing ongoing challenges from the fall out of the recession.
ASDA senior property communications manager, Philip Bartram, said: “We are shocked and very disappointed by the sudden U-turn from council officers. To change the recommendation to members at such a late stage is almost unprecedented and we are frankly bemused. Both B&Q and Asda have worked hard together to bring these plans to fruition. We’ve had tremendous support from the local community - over 95 per cent of people voicing an opinion have supported the plans – and we firmly believe that the proposal has the potential to deliver major long-term benefits to the Redditch area.
"We can only hope the borough council decision on Wednesday takes into account all of the potential benefits, and also reflects the vast majority of public opinion. We could then look forward to delivering an exciting new major development for Redditch.”
The meeting takes place in the town hall from 7pm.
A council spokesman said: "The case was reviewed in light of some recent information and the subsequent recommendation was put forward."
One of the reasons given for the recommendation is that a foodstore located outside the town centre would impact on the ability of the town centre to attract an additional supermarket , which would undermine a key objecting of the emerging Local Plan no 4.
A full list of reasons why the application is recommended for refusal can be found at redditchbc.gov.uk, in the agenda for the planning meeting.