A DECISION on the future of a controversial road junction scheme is to made this week.
As part of Sainsbury’s development of the Churnet Works off Macclesfield Road, Leek, planning permission was granted by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for a food store, industrial units to replace those already on the site, three retail premises and 84 houses.
The permission also specified work at the Church Street/St Edward Street junction, meaning that no vehicles could turn right entering the town from Mill Street into St Edward Street, or turn right out of it.
The permission stated: “The retail developments shall not be brought into use until full details of the proposed alterations at the Church Street/St Edward Street junction and the Stockwell Street/Ball Haye Street junction have been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority, and the works have been completed in accordance with the approved details.”
However Sainsbury’s has now applied for permission to remove the work at the Church Street/St Edward Street junction from the planning permission requirement.
In a report to go before district council plannersd tomorrow, Thursday, planning officer Jane Curley said: “The applicant\s case for seeking release of part of the planning conditions is based on the fact that it is said that ahead of the Christmas period 2012 the district council requested these works be delayed until the New Year, so as to avoid adversely impacting on retail trade in the town centre.
“Subsequently the applicant says that this context provided an opportunity to review the situation.
“Sainsbury’s highway consultants have monitored traffic flows in and around Leek. The exercise indicates that the works to the junction are no longer considered necessary.”
However, the county’s highways authority has recommended refusal of the application, due to the lack of monitoring regime detailing a mechanism that will trigger the reassessment of the type of traffic control that may be required at the junction in future years.
The planning officer added in her report: “As the three non-food retail units have yet to be constructed, the more appropriate time to make a decision as to whether the improvements to the junction are necessary is prior occupation of these retail units.
"The application admits that the lower background traffic levels being experienced at the moment are largely due to the prevailing economic conditions.
“The likelihood is that as economic conditions improve, traffic levels will increase.
“They may not reach the 2010 levels when improvements to this junction were deemed necessary to make the development acceptable.
“Thus it is considered that the condition can be amended to remove the reference to the foodstore.
“The non-food retail units would therefore trigger improvement works to the junction.
“If, following the practical completion of these units, but before occupation, the applicants had evidence to suggest that traffic levels/ conditions were such that junction improvement were still not necessary, then it would be open to seek to vary the condition at that time.”