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Spend Leek road work money on the town

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 19, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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A COMMUNITY leader is calling for cash intended to be spent on redesigning a busy road junction be returned or spent in Leek if the planned works are shelved for good.

Sainsbury's has again submitted a planning application to delete highway alterations at the St Edward and Church Street junction.

The blocking of the right turn from Mill Street into St Edward Street was part of the original approval given for the supermarket chain's development of the Churnet Works in Macclesfield road.

Now Leek South county councillor Charlotte Atkins has said if the planning application is approved, she would insist that money which Sainsbury's has already paid for the St Edward Street scheme should be spent in Leek and not used elsewhere in the county.

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Alternatively, some of the money, paid to Staffordshire County Council, could be returned to the store chain.

The project was part of a town-wide scheme costing around £1 million, which included the removal of the roundabout at the end of Derby Street and associated works in Haywood Street, plus a new crossing in Ball Haye Street.

The sum specifically earmarked for the St Edward Street work has not been disclosed.

Councillor Atkins said: "I am not against the deletion of the road works, but part of the plan was for a pedestrian crossing in the area. This is still required near the Costa Coffee and Foxlowe area as there has been one fatality there.

"If the planning application is approved I will making investigations at the county council to see what has happened to the money that was to be used for the junction work.

"This money has got to be used in Leek, especially for the pedestrian crossing, and not put in a pot to be spent across the county. It has also got to be looked at if Sainsbury's should get a partial refund.

"The county council has to be transparent over the use of this money as the town has suffered damage to its infrastructure and businesses during the road works."

However, a spokesman for Staffordshire County Council said the money had been used for the wider scheme of the works.

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She added: "This included extra pedestrian crossings."

The latest controversy comes after Sainsbury's withdrew the St Edward Street plan last December, accusing the county council of being "unreasonable".

In December 2010 the supermarket was given planning permission by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to redevelop the Churnet Works.

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 junction.

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 more than a year. Last June Sainsbury's put in an amended application which sought to cancel the St Edward Street work, claiming the predicted amount of extra traffic using the highway had not materialised.

The plan went before the planning committee last September, but was deferred and then later withdrawn at the end of the year.

In a statement at the time to the Post & Times, Sainsbury's said it had already paid the county council for the work, but it had been suggested that the supermarket should monitor the junction for five years and pay additional costs.

Michael Adenmosun, Sainsbury's portfolio development manager, said: "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 decision on the latest application is expected to be made by planners at the district council within the next eight weeks.

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