A RETAIL giant has withdrawn a controversial bid to have round-the-clock deliveries and servicing at its new £24m superstore in a Northumberland town – after the move was branded “totally unreasonable” by local councillors.
Fears were voiced that families living near the 300-job Morrisons store in Morpeth would suffer night-time noise nuisance and disturbance if the company’s request for unrestricted, 24-hour deliveries was approved.
Town councillors submitted a strong objection to delivery vehicles being allowed to visit the Low Stanners store at any time of the day or night.
Yesterday it was revealed that Morrisons has now withdrawn its application to vary the permitted delivery hours, which was due to be determined by the county council. Last night one town councillor expressed his delight at the decision, saying common sense had prevailed.
Work started last year on the 50,000sq ft store, which will replace Morrisons’ existing Morpeth supermarket and is due to open in spring this year. When planning permission was granted in July 2011, trading hours were restricted so that it could not operate 24 hours a day, and deliveries could only be made between 7am and 10pm. The conditions were imposed to protect local residents from disruption and noise caused by trading and deliveries at unsocial hours. Morrisons had applied to the county council to change the conditions so that deliveries could take place any time.
Morpeth Town Council’s planning and transport committee agreed to object to the application, after north ward councillors Nic Best, Les Cassie and committee chairman, Graeme Trotter, all voiced deep concerns about scrapping the conditions.
Last night Coun Trotter said: “I am delighted to hear that common sense has prevailed on this.
“The town council feels that to request that deliveries can be made at any time of the day or night, along a residential road, is totally unreasonable. We were particularly disappointed with the request as the original restrictive conditions were imposed for valid reasons. Residents of Staithes Lane, in particular, have already suffered enormous disruption and inconvenience during the construction of the new supermarket, and to inflict on them further disruption during non-social hours on a permanent basis would not be fair, and totally unacceptable.”
Coun Trotter said the town council was keen to ensure that the new superstore did not become a 24-hour operation. A county council spokeswoman said the Morrisons application had generated numerous neighbour objections, but the company has now notified the planning department that it was being withdrawn.
Last night a Morrisons spokeswoman said: “Usually, at this stage in the construction process, we review the planning consent, review competitor stores and try, if possible, to secure opening and operating times to best suit the location, which can often lead to additional new jobs. However, after reflecting on the current application, we have decided to withdraw it and will be issuing a new application shortly for opening hours only.”