Asda Decision Deferred Until March 30th After A Day of Confusion

Last night’s planning meeting was a bit of an anti-climax.

The decision on the Asda scheme was originally going to be decided last night.
Then on Friday we heard that County Highways had put in a “holding objection” so that it would probably be deferred.
Then yesterday lunchtime we heard that County Highways were going to withdraw their objection so that the decision would be made lat night.
Then at 5 pm yesterday we heard that County hadn’t yet withdrawn their objection so that it would probably be deferred.

We councillors went along to the meeting not quite sure what was going to happen. The public gallery was almost full of residents not sure what was going to happen either. Most councillors felt it was wise to wait a month until we had a proper reply from County Highways. Chris seized the opportunity to speak and outline some residents concerns , but in the end was politely told that we weren’t discussing it tonight and that he should leave it till next time. However Chris did at least manage to cover some resident’s points. We hope that the public who came won’t feel that they were wasting their time.

The next meeting is on March 30th, and the District Council has asked someone from County Highways to come to answer any questions from councillors.

The main residents’ point that Chris raised was this:

The traffic consultants are estimating an extra 954 car movements from the whole of the Park School Site, in the Friday evening peak, between 5 and 6 pm. This roughly doubles the traffic going towards Rawreth and increases by a half the amount of traffic going towards Rayleigh. However, local residents have examined the reports from Asda’s various consultants and believe these figures may be an underestimate. This is their reasoning:

The Transport Assessment by Cottee Highways Consultants is based on figures from traffic surveys at various stores around the UK:

Somerfield, Hailsham
Somerfield, Tonbridge
Somerfield, Surrey Heath
Somerfield, Northallerton
Waitrose, West Ealing
Safeway, Largs
Sainsburys ,Sherbourne
Sainsbury, Londonderry
Co-op, Larne
Tesco, Clitheroe
Tesco, Dungannon

Surveys had been made of the traffic at these stores, calculations made of the number of vehicle movements per hour per 100m3 of floor area for each store and then predictions made for the proposed Asda.

You will notice that NONE of the stores are actually Asda stores. It seems that the consultants assume that all supermarkets of the same size basically attract the same number of vehicles, whther they are Asda , or Sainsburys, or Somerfield.

However,another one of Asda’s consultants, in another report show the average national turnover per square metre of different supermarket companies. This is on the last page of the Supplementary Report by Planning Potential. It shows that:

National Average Turnover per square metre of Somerfield: ? 4489
National Average Turnover per square metre of Sainsburys: ? 10140
National Average Turnover of Asda : ? 11,712

So the average turnover from an Asda is about 15 percent than a Sainsburys, and an enormous two-and-a-half-times higher than a Somerfield.

If the turnover is higher it’s a fair assumption that the number of shoppers and cars will be higher. So the residents believe that the estimated traffic figures are too low.

Now we have to wait and see what County Highways say. This will obviously have an influence on how councillors vote…