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B&Q and Morrisons submit plan for Stoke store conversion

PLANS to merge two retail stores and create up to 300 new jobs in a scheme which has divided families have been submitted.

B&Q and Morrisons have handed in a joint planning application to Stoke-on-Trent City Council for the development at Whittle Road in Meir Park. If approved, the proposals would see the existing B&Q store revamped and a Morrisons foodstore built there.

Many have backed the plans, but there are a number of people worried about the impact on roads – given there is already a Tesco nearby. A recent consultation on the plans has divided opinion among people living in Meir Park.

Fred Ball, 73, said: "I was a councillor when Tesco originally put the planning application in for the same site and I objected to the plans back then because I thought there would be a big issue with traffic. But it was passed and since then the traffic seems to have exacerbated because we have an Aldi store on there now too."

Mr Ball, who admits he uses Tesco and the B&Q store regularly, added: "This new application will only make things worse because it will bring the total number of supermarkets up to three. "I agree that competition is a good thing, but I think this Morrisons store is in the wrong place and will contribute to even more traffic problems around Meir Park and the A50."

Meir Park ward councillor Abi Brown said dozens of residents had raised concerns about the impact of the superstore on the roads.

She said: "I did go to the consultation and there was a lot of support for these plans. I'm sure that there are a lot of people that have their reservations about them, too.

"Whether they are for or against, one thing that has come up time and time again is the worry that it will create havoc on the roads.

"On the other hand, the plans will provide 300 much needed jobs for our area. It is for the residents to submit their thoughts to the developersnow and I would encourage anyone with an opinion on the plans to do so."

If planning consent is granted, work could start by next autumn, with completion expected to be in spring 2015.

Richard Haynes, of Morrisons, said: "Submitting this application marks the next key milestone for this project and, if approved, the new look store will feature our latest internal store layout, including the best innovations in fresh produce retail."

Heidi Reynolds, B&Q divisional director for the south west, added: ""B&Q will still be the place to come for all your home improvement needs. But our new store format is designed to make it easier for customers to shop and is being well received everywhere we have introduced it so far."

Source: Laura James - The Sentinel

31 May 2014

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