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Way cleared for Stone supermarket say Westbridge Park campaigners

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

By Kerry Ashdown

westbridge
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CAMPAIGNERS fighting against plans for a supermarket on Stone's Westbridge Park claim Stafford Borough Council's latest proposals "clear the way" for the store to be built.

The council has unveiled its planned changes to the Local Plan for Stafford Borough, in the wake of planning inspector Stephen Pratt's initial comments.

Mr Pratt said in December 2013 there was "insufficient justification" to include the Westbridge Park site within an amended town centre policy boundary – a proposal announced by the borough council at the eleventh hour during October's public examination of the plans.

The council's modifications include removing the words "provision of mixed use development at Westbridge Park", but the council has also proposed removing "green infrastructure" designation from part of the park, and instead classing it as the Stone Area.

The 1,400 sqm food retail provision for the town centre has been increased to 1,700sqm, while 2,200 sqm of non-food retailing has been reduced to 400 sqm.

But Keep Westbridge Park Green, which handed a petition containing more than 4,800 signatures opposing the supermarket plans to the borough council, said the new proposals would clear the way for a planning application for a supermarket on the park to be submitted in a way that would be more difficult to resist because the area would become a "sequentially preferred" location for development.

KWPG'S Ian Fordham, of Granville Terrace, said: "We believe these proposals are an alternative path to achieving the objective of selling off part of the park to realise a cash receipt. Councillors appear to have lost sight of the fact that they were elected to represent the democratic wishes of residents who have, in large numbers, consistently opposed such a development.''

There are also worries about potential flooding on the site, which is close to the River Trent and the Trent and Mersey Canal. Bob Jones, also of Granville Terrace, said: "Re-opening the Westbridge Park debate will not change the flood risk of using this site."

The new Stafford Borough Plan clearly states in its key issues and challenges that in order to prepare for and respond to climate change, new developments should be steered away from areas prone to flooding.

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