Co-op 'ignoring' concerns over new supermarket

The Co-op previously said they did not want to be "unco-operative" about people's objections.
The Co-op previously said they did not want to be "unco-operative" about people's objections.

The Co-op has been accused of "ignoring" the concerns of residents and councillors over plans for a new supermarket it is trying build.

The organisation wants to develop a derelict health centre on Barnsley Road in South Kirkby, but have been met with opposition from locals, many of whom are concerned about a potential increase in traffic.

In July, a planning committee asked the supermarket chain to consider moving the proposed entrance to their car park away from Barnsley Road because it was thought to be dangerous.

But it has now emerged that the Co-op, who said on that occasion they did not want to be "unco-operative", refused to talk to the council about the issue afterwards.

Instead, the firm appealed to the government's Planning Inspectorate (PI) on the grounds a final decision was taking too long to reach. The Pl will either approve or reject the plans at the end of the month.

Speaking at a meeting on Thursday where the issue was raised, Pontefract councillor David Jones said: "We did spend a lot of time on this proposal in terms of where the access point was on this site.

"We reserved significant concerns about direct access from Barnsley Road because of its size, the width and the type of traffic that travels down that road most of the day.

"Rather than refuse it we were minded to say, "How about changing it?" and they've ignored all of that."

The planning committee voted to refuse the application, but because the decision has been taken out of the council's hands, that judgment is only advisory.

Its reasons for objecting to the Co-op will now be put in writing to the government in the hope they will be taken on board.

Coun Celia Loughran said: "I'm very concerned that the people who live around there have not been engaged with at all by the Co-op.

"There's been no real effort on the applicant's side to seek out their views."

Planning officer Julie Greenfield, who will write to the government on behalf of the council, said: "I did contact the application after the last meeting and suggested they come to meet with us to discuss what members had said.

"They told me at that point they were considering going down the non-determination (appeals) route, which is their right."

The Co-op has not responded to a request for comment.