Supermarket giant Morrisons says it is “not surprised” its plans for a new store in Dallow Road, Luton, have been recommended for refusal as council officers “appeared to be set against it” from the start.
In December Morrisons submitted a joint application with B&Q to sub-divide its existing DIY store in Dallow Road, to create room for a new supermarket.
Under the plans B&Q wouid be scaled back to the smaller half of the building on the western side, while Morrisons would refit the larger east portion for a sales floorspace of just under 4,000sq metres.
The car park would be retained for shared use.
Originally the council planned to determine on the application by April 17, but this was pushed back and it will be heard on Wednesday.
Morrisons and B&Q have been dealt a blow ahead of that decision as council officers have recommended that councillors reject the proposal.
In a report councillors have been advised that the plan would have a “significantly adverse” impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre.
The report adds that Morrisons failed to consider “two sequentially preferable sites” closer to the centre of Luton – Power Court and the Bute Street surface car park.
It reads: “(Bute Street) was identified in the letter sent out by the council to the four major foodstore operators as being potentially available for foodstore development.
“In the emerging local plan the wider site is earmarked for widespread regeneration.”
Concerns were also raised over the applicant’s “failure satisfactorily assess the effect of the proposal on the local highway network’.
Reacting to the recommendation, Morrisons development executive Richard Haynes told Herald & Post: “Whilst we are very disappointed with the recommendation, we are not surprised as it has been clear from the outset that despite all the benefits of our scheme, officers appeared to be set against it.
“We have tried very hard to engage with them, providing solutions to their concerns, as is typical with the planning process, but their minds were made up.
“Despite this, we are quite sure that our scheme will be good for Dallow and Luton.
“We now hope that councillors will be more willing to weigh up the pros and cons of the scheme and arrive at a considered decision.
“If they do, we are confident that they will vote to approve the application, agreeing not only with us but with well over 90% of the local community who have made clear to us in their hundreds that they want this scheme for Dallow Road.”