Fears for Buckingham town centre trade after thumbs up for Sainsbury’s store


Traders and Buckingham town councillors have criticised Aylesbury Vale District Council’s decision to vote in favour of the proposed Sainsbury’s store at Windsor Park against officer recommendations.

At a meeting of Buckingham Town Council’s planning committee, councillors said they were concerned about what affect a new supermarket would have on town centre trade and hoped any developer’s section 106 contributions could be used to mitigate any harm.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, town councillor Jon Harvey said: “It is in the interest of Sainsbury’s to be part of a healthy town.”

Councillors said Sainsbury’s should be encouraged to work with traders’ group Shop Buckingham to promote a town-friendly atmosphere and a good working relationship.

Last week, members of AVDC’s strategic development control committee supported the outline application for a superstore and medical centre, despite officers recommending the application be refused.

A report put together by an independent consultant for AVDC planners said the store could reduce ‘town centre retail turnover in 2016’ by 18 per cent and Waitrose could suffer a 42 per cent drop in performance, raising concerns that it could result in the closure of the store.

The development has also been criticised by town traders. Chairman of Shop Buckingham, Elliot Wallis, said: “At this moment in time, the traders of Buckingham are looking at formally submitting opposition to the development because we are concerned at the impact of another out of town supermarket on the town centre.

“We are still open to the possibility of working with Sainsbury’s and only want the best for Buckingham.”

John Mortimer, of Buckingham in Transition, said the decision also went against national planning guidelines which stressed the importance of planning policies which promoted competitive town centres and “recognised town centres as the hearts of their communities and supported their viability and vitality”.

A final decision on the application has been deferred while work is carried out on the section 106 developer contributions.

Mr Mortimer said: “People shouldn’t think the decision taken at AVDC last Wednesday is final.

“The decision will not be finalised until the end of January, which gives people a chance to have their say.”