HOLD-UPS with a new supermarket development are costing Wearside’s economy £1million a month, claim experts.
Development firm Terrace Hill is working with Sainsbury’s to build a new superstore creating up to 500 jobs in Southwick.
The team submitted a planning application for the store on the site of the existing Jennings car showroom in Riverside Road in November last year.
But Sunderland City Council is still to decide on the proposals, despite being long-past its own 13-week target date.
Now consultants Nathaniel Litchfield and Partners have warned the city’s economy is missing out on £1million for every month the project is delayed.
They say much-needed jobs are being held-up – as well as £48million-worth of investment in creating the store.
“Given the current economic baseline and the significant benefits that the proposed development could generate, there is clear need to bring the scheme forward as soon as possible to help stabilise the local economy,” they said.
“Based upon our assessment of average earnings in Sunderland we estimate that a delay of just one month would result in a permanent loss to the local economy of around £1million.”
The consultants, working on behalf of Terrace Hill, issued the warning in a report to the council’s planning department.
The new Sainsbury’s store will provide 400-500 jobs – about 90 per cent of which it says will go to workers in Sunderland.
Nathaniel Litchfield and Partners say the spending power of new employees and the boost to Wearside-based suppliers will create scores of additional posts.
“The total gross employment impact of the proposed foodstore could be 545–605 jobs,” they said. “This would result in a 6.3 per cent reduction in current levels of unemployment in the Sunderland area.”
The consultants average weekly wage in Sunderland is £427, which would mean each one-month delay will cost Sunderland £1.03million in lost wages.
They added that 400 temporary construction jobs would be created to build the store, and the development would also secure the 100 existing jobs at Jennings – which plans to relocate to a nearby site.
Some are not convinced, however, that the new store will be the best thing for communities north of the Wear.
Traders and some residents have expressed fears over proposed supermarket developments in the area, claiming they will harm smaller community shops and services.
Planning permission has already been granted for a giant Tesco store on Sunderland Retail Park in Roker, and an application is in to build a Lidl store and other retail units on the old Jennings site in North Hylton Road.
Sunderland City Council is yet to comment on the consultants’ warnings.