SHROPSHIRE councillors sensationally voted against their officers’ preferred option for a supermarket in Oswestry at a meeting of its strategic planning committee last week.
The committee rejected J-Ross Developments’ application to build a 72,000 sq ft supermarket on Oswestry’s Central car park, a decision which brought cheers from a large section of the public attending the meeting.
And councillors also voted to defer their decision on the edge of town applications made by J.T. Hughes/Guttercrest, Richard Burbidge Ltd., and The Smithfield scheme, proposed by Liberty Mercian on behalf of the town council; as well as a two-tier parking facility on Middleton Road.
The result was seen as a victory for the OS21 coalition who have fought a long battle to oppose the development of any such supermarket, and campaigner, Jessie Miller, was delighted with the outcome.
“It’s fantastic news,” she said. “We are really pleased that the committee showed good sense and made good judgments.
“Now the coalition is looking forward to putting their arguments against the out of town proposals. But we accept that these decisions must be made in the right time, we don’t want to make the wrong choices for Oswestry,” she added.
The Central car park site was rejected by councillors on the grounds that it would cause too much traffic congestion and present a danger to pedestrians, despite plans for a new gyratory system.
Some councillors also thought that the proposed design of the build would be out of character with the town centre, and that it could result in an unacceptable impact to residential areas.
A spokesman for J-Ross Developments had said it was “obviously disappointed” with the ruling, having said that their proposal could create 200 jobs as a direct result of the scheme, and promising it “would put the heart back into Oswestry.”
But councillors agreed that any decision could “make or break” the future of local businesses, and the lack of urgent need for a new supermarket could allow Oswestry more time for the town centre to prove itself.
Other applicants will, however, see the decision as a boost to the chances of their own proposals and will look forward to the committee reconvening to discuss the matter, although no date for any such meeting has yet been finalised.
Councillors are likely to meet in September to make a decision on the three remaining applications but that could change if J. Ross Developments appeal against their refusal.