Sainsbury’s, again

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the ongoing dispute between the large Sainsbury’s store next to the A3 in Cobham and neighbouring residents, particularly those living in Riverview Gardens.

Sainsbury’s were given permission to extend their store in November 2008. The work was carried out in the early part of 2009 and there was after that a dispute about whether they should be entitled to instal 4 foot high “sky lettering” above their building. This was turned down.

The extension required the removal of a row of evergreen trees which provided a barrier between the store car park and the residents of Riverview Gardens. These trees prevented light pollution from the lighting in the car park from interfering with the residents’ enjoyment of their properties. Sainsbury’s were required to agree the landscaping of the site with Elmbridge BC as a condition of being granted planning permission for the extension.

Having built their extension, Sainsbury’s replaced the evergreen trees with a row of deciduous trees. The residents objected, pointing out that deciduous tress would provide no protection from light pollution between November and March. Sainsbury’s, who had contended that the cost of replacing their newly planted trees was excessive, were required to think again.

They have now come back with a plan to insert evergreen trees between the new deciduous ones. Obviously, this is better than having no evergreen trees but the residents maintain that the gaps in their protective screen which will appear come the autumn represent a serious reduction in the light protection which they enjoyed before the store was extended. This time the planning officer at Elmbridge has approved their scheme, but I have promoted the application to the local planning committee, because I believe that elected representatives should have the final say.

The meeting is on 31st January 2011 at 7.45pm in the Civic Centre in Esher. I do not sit on that committee and therefore have some freedom to comment. The thing that strikes me is that Sainsbury’s seem to place the attraction of saving what to them is a very small amount of money ahead of maintaining friendly relations with local residents and being a good neighbour. I find this profoundly disappointing.

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