MORE controversy has erupted over road changes in Leek after Sainsbury's withdrew its application to stop work taking place at a key junction in Leek - with the chain claiming the county council was being "unreasonable".
In December 2010 the supermarket giant was given planning permission by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to redevelop the Churnet Works in Leek for a store, petrol station industrial units and housing, along with road changes throughout the town.
However, the planning conditions, which are a legally binding agreement, included the removal of the roundabout, work at Ball Haye Street and the St Edward Street junctions. These were to be completed before the store opened.
Work at St Edward Street, at its junction with Church Street, has not taken place despite the store being open for a year.
In June Sainsbury's put in an amended application which sought not to go ahead with the St Edward Street work as the predicted amount of traffic using the highway had not materialised.
The plan went before the planning committee in September, but was deferred.
Last week it was set to go before the planning committee again but was withdrawn.
In a statement to the Post & Times Sainsbury's said it had already paid the county council for the work, but it had been suggested in the new plan that the supermarket should monitor the junction for five years and pay additional costs.
Michael Adenmosun, Sainsbury's portfolio development manager, said: "We have unfortunately had to withdraw our recent planning application to remove the requirement for the junction works at Church Street/St Edward Street, which includes the introduction of the no-right-turn.
"The application demonstrated that these works, the last of the highway works linked to our Churnet Works development, are not required at this stage, and in our opinion are unlikely to be required in the future. Our application to remove the requirement was met with a suggestion that Sainsbury's should monitor traffic at the junction for a further five years and potentially pay further money for additional works in the future.
"Having already paid the county council an agreed sum of money for them to undertake the works as part of the original submission, we feel the additional monitoring and costs, along with the uncertainty this will lead to in the community regarding the junction, is unreasonable, and left us with no option but to withdraw our application."
A spokesman for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council said: "The council asked Sainsbury's to delay the start of the highway works associated with their planning consent in order to minimise the impact of these works on the town. The work was scheduled to follow a period of weeks of disruption due to unrelated utilities road works and we were keen to avoid prolonging this disruption.
"This was considered to be the most sensible solution to the concerns raised by local people about traffic flows.
"We always planned to look at the operation of the road network again once the store opened and we'll be discussing the next steps with the county council."
Leek town mayor John Fisher said: "By completing the work it will alleviate the long tailbacks in Mill Street. Also it will help when articulated lorries are turning right into St Edward Street.
"A new pedestrian crossing near the church, which would help to avoid another tragic accident occurring with a pedestrian. On balance I think it is the right decision, as what was the point of all the road works if work at this junction is not completed. There are 40 houses applied for at the Churnet Works which would increase traffic more in Mill Street."
A spokesman for Staffordshire County Council said: "We are aware that Sainsbury's has withdrawn its application to vary the original planning conditions. We will now be discussing with both the district council and the developer how we progress the matter further.
"If highways improvements are carried out at the junction then the costs will be met by the developer and not by taxpayers as detailed in the original contract."