Hundreds of jobs in store at new shops

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HUNDREDS of jobs are heading to one of Sunderland’s most deprived areas after a new supermarket and a food store and retail development got the go-ahead.

Developers Terrace Hill were last night granted planning permission to build a new Sainsbury’s on the Jennings car showroom site at Riverside Road, off Wessington Way, which would create about 450 jobs.

Merseyside firm Verrum Victum was also give permission for a discount food store, retail units, office space and other services creating 250 jobs at the derelict ex-Jennings site in North Hylton Road.

The plans were granted in face of fierce objections from Morrison’s, which threatened to pull out of underpinning the redevelopment of the Holmeside Triangle area, if either of the rival projects went ahead.

Sainsbury’s and Terrace Hill have announced, however, that they are in talks with One North East and the Homes and Communities Agency over potentially developing Holmeside in place of Morrison’s and partner Ashall Property.

Construction work on the new Sainsbury’s store is expected to begin next year, but both projects need Secretary of State approval beforehand.

Andrew Armstrong, director of Condy Lofthouse Architects, working on the Verrum Victum scheme, said: “It’s wonderful that there are two projects there which will be of great benefit to the area.

“They will see the creation and safeguarding of about 500 jobs with the Sainsbury’s project, and 250 at ours – as well as, in our case, £10million of investment into the local community. This is without any public money being spent.”

The Sainsbury’s development is also expected to inject millions into the community.

Ashall Property launched a last-ditch attempt to block both Southwick ward proposals at a meeting of Sunderland Council’s planning and highways committee last night in the latest episode of what has been dubbed “store wars.”

Colin Thomasson repeated that plans to create 1,000 jobs at a retail development underpinned by a Morrison’s would have to be abandoned if either the new Sainsbury’s or the Verrum Victum project was accepted.

Mr Thomasson also accused the council of not giving his team enough time to respond to information gathered by consultants after plans were deferred at a meeting last month, and suggested Ashall had grounds to challenge the committee’s decision.

Keith Lowes, the council’s head of planning and environment, said the information was drawn up to assist councillors and planners in making their decision and had been released in ample time.

He said the Holmeside development was not yet at a position where it could be considered a serious scheme.

Duncan McEwan, of Terrace Hill, accused Morrison’s of trying to “bully” Sunderland into finding in its favour.

Councillors said the new developments would be a boost to the area in terms of jobs, and stop money leaking out of north west Sunderland into South Tyneside.

Red House councillor Bryan Charlton expressed concerns over the impact of developments on community shopping centres in the area, and on traffic on the already-dangerous North Hylton Road.

Small business owners and some residents had already objected to the Sainsbury’s and Verrum Victum developments, claiming they would turn small shopping parades into “ghost towns.”

This has been dismissed by developers, who claim they would boost, not deplete, trade in the area.

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