Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Dismay as traders questio supermarket's commitment
Town leaders have reacted with dismay after supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has revealed that it is unlikely to start building its superstore in Bingley town centre for another 12 months.
The company has blamed its “busy” development programme in 2012/13 and said it cannot commit to start construction work on the former Bradford & Bingley headquarters in Main Street in this financial year.
The announcement has left the town’s business community “hugely disappointed” and prompted calls for more commitment from supermarket bosses on the future of the multi-million pound project.
Howard Martin, president of Bingley Chamber of Trade, said: “This is just bad news for Bingley as a whole. Sainsbury’s taking over the old Bradford & Bingley headquarters was the major step in the town’s regeneration. We were hoping Sainsbury’s would open soon and bring people back to the town.”
He said hopes were raised when Sainsbury’s was given planning permission for the 40,000 sq ft store – expected to create up to 250 jobs – that it would give a much-needed shot in the arm for the town.
Bingley faced a “double whammy” with the economic downturn and hundreds of job losses at the town’s biggest employer following the closure of the B&B offices in Main Street, said Mr Martin. He added: “That meant a significant loss of footfall and the businesses, shops and market have suffered from that. It is getting to the point where you think ‘is there a lack of commitment from Sainsbury’s?”
Bingley Conservative councillor Mark Shaw said he had been sent hundreds of e-mails from concerned residents eager for news about when the supermarket development would start.
Coun Shaw said: “This is the loss of job opportunities and the quality shopping that would have given a boost to other businesses in Bingley. It would have tidied up a derelict eyesore in the town centre and now this much-needed investment is being delayed.”
Mr Martin called for Sainsbury’s bosses to answer to business leaders at the next Bingley Chamber of Trade meeting on May 8. A representative had been due to attend this month’s meeting but pulled out.
In a letter, which will be sent to Bingley residents, Sainsbury’s spokesman Tom Arnold states: “Sainsbury’s received confirmation of planning permission for its new store on the former Bradford & Bingley site in December 2011. Since then we have just come out of the judicial review period, commonplace for developments of this size.
“Sainsbury’s has already committed to a busy development programme this financial year and unfortunately cannot commit to starting work on the Bingley store at this time. Construction of the store is unlikely to start until next year, however, Sainsbury’s do intend to begin preparing the site for works over the next few months.
“I appreciate this may be frustrating and we are very grateful for the support the proposals have received from the local community. I can assure you that Sainsbury’s is still committed to opening a new store in Bingley and hope to bring forward the plans as soon as possible.”
Reacting to the letter, Mr Martin said: “Even the latest statement does not put any firm dates on when they might start.You pray that this has not just been Sainsbury’s buying it to prevent the competition opening in Bingley and what we do not want to see is them knock it down and nothing happening.”