After the last letter to Sainsbury’s , South Ruislip Residents Association Vice-Chairman Sid Jackson received a generic reply:
“23rd January 2015
Dear Mr Jackson
Thank you for your email regarding South Ruislip and the Arla Foods scheme.
As you know the former dairy site has had a long and uncertain history – stretching back to the last decade – and was refused planning permission in February 2014.
While Citygrove subsequently secured a planning permission on the former dairy site, we believe there are genuine grounds for a legal challenge.
The Council failed to address a number of crucial policy areas in reaching their decision. These include misrepresenting National Retail Policy, failing to take account of the differences between the previous refusal and the new proposal, and the necessary financial evidence to justify the level of affordable housing.
As a result we requested that Hillingdon Council take the planning application back to committee in order to interrogate these areas in more detail but unfortunately they declined.
We will be writing to the Council asking them to rectify their mistakes. Depending on their response we will be challenging London Borough of Hillingdon’s decision to approve the scheme through legal action.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Property
Communications David Mills on 07900 709393 or email email@example.com
Disappointed with a generic response Sid wrote back…
“Dear Ms Torincsi
Many thanks for acknowledging receipt of my letter.
It is a shame that Mr Coupe did not see fit to respond in person, but passed it to properties who have issued a pre written statement.
No one at Sainsbury,s seems to want to or care about responding to the serious concerns of our residents.
It seems that your company are only interested in the revenue account with customers a communities coming a poor second.
Please show this to Mr Coupe, if he is at all interested in other people’s concerns with respect how Sainsbury,s conduct their business.
To which Mr Coupe replied…
On 28 Jan 2015, at 16:06, Mike Coupe <Mike.Coupe@sainsburys.co.uk> wrote:
“Dear Mr Jackson
Thank you for your email regarding South Ruislip and the future of the Arla Foods scheme.
Whilst I understand your concerns it is important to note that we have not yet carried out any action which would delay Citygrove’s ability to begin works on the site. However we believe there are serious flaws in the way Hillingdon Council made its decision to grant planning permission for the scheme which I will outline below. Citygrove’s application was refused planning permission in April 2014 by Hillingdon Council, as the development would have an unacceptable impact on retail centres across Hillingdon and surrounding boroughs such as Harrow. At that time, the Council also decided that the scheme was not in keeping with their Local Plan, which provides a guide for future development in the Borough.
Whilst Citygrove subsequently secured a planning permission in December 2014 we believe Hillingdon Council failed to address a number of crucial policy areas and did not provide adequate justification for overturning the April decision to refuse the first planning application. Our concerns are:
- The Council did not properly address the Coalition Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which clearly identifies town centres as the preferred location for retail and leisure development as opposed to out-of-centre developments such as the Arla food scheme.
- Hillingdon failed to note or report that there were other preferential retail sites that conformed to this Town Centre First Policy and as a result should have refused Citygrove’s second application in accordance with the NPPF. Nor was there any adequate explanation in the Council’s Committee report of the effect on the proposal on South Ruislip, including planned investments.
- The Council’s decision to approve the scheme did not take into account or question the differences between the initial refusal and subsequent approval, simply noting that the ‘key difference is that the supermarket is smaller and the layout has been improved’.
- The Council did not provide sufficient evidence to justify the low level of affordable housing proposed by Citygrove (10%), when their own Council policy proposes a minimum of 35% affordable housing in new developments.
Before the permission was granted we requested that Hillingdon Council take the planning application back to committee in order to address these issues properly but unfortunately they declined. We have now written to them giving them a further opportunity to review their decision.
In the meantime I want to reassure you that we remain committed to South Ruislip where we have been trading for 25 years. We will continue to serve our customers whilst we consider our next options, including a possible legal challenge.
We are proud of our contribution to the local economy – from being a good employer generating local jobs across the Borough (we currently employ over 750 colleagues in Hillingdon across five stores), to paying our fair share of taxes and business rates locally. We play a prominent role in the local community supporting charities, schools and businesses. Since 2005 we have donated over £1.1million worth of sports and cooking equipment to schools and community groups across Hillingdon through our Active Kids scheme. Each year customers and colleagues in our stores vote for their local charity partner who they then support – last year our store raised over £2,000 for Age UK Hillingdon, working together on a variety of fundraising from book sales, the sale of trolley coins and clothing collection days.
I appreciate you taking the time to write to me and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Property Communications, David Mills, on 07900 709393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Coupe, CEO
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd | 33 Holborn, London | EC1N 2HT
To which Sid has responded;
“Dear Mr Coupe
Many thanks for note, whilst it lists your concerns in pure terms if looked at in wider terms my observations would be-
The NPPF is a framework therefore used as guidance not for strict adherence to.
If the framework were followed to the letter, only your store would be in the town centre with no other alternative site. This then would give a total monopoly to you, with no further opportunity to provide additional outlets in South Ruislip.
Also when looking at our area the distance from your store to the far end of the ARLA site is less than a quarter of the length of Uxbridge high street which is considered to be all town centre.
We are aware of your contribution to our community, that is why we believe it would be a great shame to spoil all that by continuing with this unpopular course of action.
Sid Jackson “