WAITROSE has warned council planners that a proposed artisan market would lead to increased parking and traffic problems in the town centre.

Waitrose, based at Hayhurst Quay with car park access off London Road and service access from Chesterway, has lodged an objection to the plans for a food and drink hall at the former J&S Motorcycle building.

Vacant since 2012, the building – at the corner of London Road and Chesterway – is currently subject to a planning application, but the supermarket’s comments raise concerns over accessibility.

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Planning consultancy firm Firstplan wrote to CWAC on behalf of Waitrose: “The development will attract a significant number of people each day and, given the nature of the proposed use, visitors are likely to stay for an extended period.

“Waitrose is concerned that the proposal does not include the provision of any on-site car parking, disabled parking or indeed cycle parking.

“Customers visiting the artisan market are therefore very likely to use Waitrose car par as this is the nearest parking to the site.

Northwich Guardian:

“If a significant number of visitors to the proposed artisan market were to use the Waitrose car park, it could potentially undermine the viability of the store which could, in turn, harm the health of the wider town centre.”

The response also referenced previous consent for a gym, but said the concept was ‘materially different’ in terms of traffic impact. Parking charges, introduced to public Northwich car parks in November, were also raised.

Waitrose added that the market’s set-up would mean a ‘significant number’ of deliveries each week, causing traffic flow and pedestrian concerns.

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The statement added: “While Waitrose wish to see this vacant retail unit brought back into active use, they have specific concerns about the proposed artisan market. The application fails to provide sufficient on-site parking and fails to provide an adequate servicing strategy.”

When first reported by the Guardian, the plans were met with a mixed reader reaction. While the concept of an ‘Altrincham-style’ market hall was welcomed, the location was seen as a sticking point.

Cllr Andrew Cooper said: “This type of facility – an artisan-style market hall with few places to eat – is just the sort of thing that people have been asking for in the town centre.

“This site has been an eyesore for some time now, and I’m sure local residents look forward to seeing it redeveloped.

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“The council’s planning policy is clear on favouring a ‘town centre-first’ approach, where applicants need to demonstrate that no suitable building exists in the town centre that could be used for the proposed purpose.

“It remains to be seen whether this application can satisfy this requirement, but hopefully we can work with the applicant to see their vision brought to the town centre in the right location.”