A MAJOR new report is demanding an end to further expansion by out-of-town supermarkets in Shrewsbury, to prevent damage to the town’s independent traders.
The study on the town from the Campaign to Protect Rural England said that its local food shops ‘could be undermined by expanding supermarket chains’.
The report said independent food stores and suppliers in Shrewsbury and its surrounding areas support more than 900 jobs and bring in £24 million a year to the local economy. It comes shortly after planning permission was put in for a new Waitrose supermarket in Oteley Road and follows recently-approved expansions of the Tesco Extra and Sainsbury’s stores.
“Shropshire Council should ensure strong and effective local planning policies are in place to prevent further expansion of food superstores from damaging the range of shops in the town centre and worsening access to essential local food stores elsewhere,” the report said.
The report added that supermarket expansion is a ‘continuing threat’ to retail diversity in Shrewsbury.
“Excessively large stores – more so when out-of-centre – can make smaller stores unviable, particularly in times of recession. Because of the interdependency of local businesses in food webs, loss of smaller and independent outlets can affect clusters of other shops and businesses that rely on them,” it said.
Des Walker, co-owner of Pomona Grocery in Castle Gates, said he supported the findings of the report.
“If we were to get a large Waitrose outside the town centre, that would be damaging for businesses like ourselves,” he said.
“We rely on there being a smaller Waitrose and Marks & Spencer in the town centre as people want to come into a shop like ours to get more specialist things.
“Shrewsbury has a unique blend of independent retailers. If you want to go the way of Telford and Wellington, one way is to build more and more on the edge of town.”
Jake Berriman, Shropshire Council’s head of strategic delivery, said that the views of CPRE are being taken into account as part of the Site Allocations and Management of Development plan that is being drawn up to help grow Shropshire’s market towns.
“Our policies provide strong support to Shrewsbury town centre and our vibrant market towns and we will listen carefully to what everyone has to say before finalising the SAMDev policies,” he said.