A WAR of words has broken out over plans for a new supermarket on Wearside.
Peel Holdings has submitted a planning application to Sunderland City Council for permission to demolish units at the Peel Centre, in Spire Road, Washington, and build a new supermarket for Tesco.
The Manchester-based company issued a statement last week warning rejection of the plans could cost hundreds of new jobs and mean the council has to fight an expensive legal appeal battle.
“If the scheme is refused, not only will it mean the loss of the 300 new jobs that would be created, but also a missed opportunity to provide long overdue additional choice to meet the needs of shoppers and residents in Washington.
“There would also be an expensive public inquiry to consider the resulting planning appeal. This is scheduled to take place in June, should it be required,” said the firm.
But now bosses at The Galleries have hit back, warning letting the Peel development go ahead could have serious consequences for the heart of Washington.
They say creating another major out-of-town superstore so close to the Galleries would poach trade from the town centre, and put the future of existing shops at risk.
Council officers are expected to recommend refusal of the Peel Holdings application. Bob Mogford, director of investment management at Galleries, owners Prupim, urged councillors to kick the plan out.
“Granting planning permission for this proposed development at The Peel Centre would be a hammer blow to Washington town centre from which it may never recover,” he said.
“With nearly 3,000 people reliant on The Galleries for work, and thousands more in the community dependent on its shops and services, the vitality of the town centre is simply not something that should be put in jeopardy. We are pleased Sunderland City Council seems to have recognised the scale of the threat and has responded accordingly.”
The firm says it has invested more than £42million in the Galleries over the last five years, and has plans for further investment and job creation, which would be under threat if the Peel plan goes ahead.
National planning policy protects town centres from out-of-town developments, and Prupim says approving the Peel plan would contravene the rules.