North East Lincolnshire Council has voted against the establishment of the new £1.25m Co-op store on highway safety grounds, maintaining that it would significantly increase the risk of vehicle collisions within busy Bargate.
After the original application was rejected last summer for the same reason, Co-op submitted additional documentation to address the concerns of the council and the Highway Authority. These concerns included the prospective arrangements for pedestrian access, the car-park layout and the preservation of the 1850s listed building.
Within these documents, Co-op proposed a new access point off Bargate in the form of a right-hand turn lane.
Lara Hattle of ENGIE, which works in partnership with the council, said: “The Highway Authority believes there is insufficient road width to safely accommodate this right turn lane. The existing road layout already prevents the free-flow of traffic once a vehicle is stationary, waiting to turn into the side streets.”
She added: “Whilst delivery vehicles are more likely to operate in the early mornings when traffic levels are less, the schedule for servicing still covers busier times of the morning, increasing concerns.
“Abbey Road and Brighowgate are key routes to access the town centre including the railway station and major car parks. There is a risk of conflict between vehicles turning right into these two side roads versus vehicles turning right into the development site. So much so that a head-on collision could occur.”
Representing Co-op, Sam Miller, argued that in a survey of almost 600 local residents, they were “overwhelmingly supportive” of the new convenience store, which would have created 15 to 20 new jobs.
He said: “The proposed convenience store will deliver a number of benefits to the local community. The additional traffic generated would be very low, at around a one-percent increase of the current volumes of traffic on this section of Bargate.
“The average number of accidents currently recorded at the junctions is 0.6 accidents per annum and 0.4 accidents per annum at the junction with Bargate and Abbey Road. This low number of accidents has been consistent for the last two decades.”
Cllr Debbie Woodward said: “The building does not look very impressive in its current state. This listed building has been empty for nearly 14 years and is at risk of rapidly deteriorating. The building does not create a good impression of our town in which people live, work and visit.”
She stressed that local residents were “extremely supportive”, with 100 people signing a petition in 24 hours to support the establishment of the new Co-op.
“People just want to see the building brought back into good use. Other options for renovation of this building are limited. The need for luxury flats in the area does not exist. None of the reports provided technical evidence of the Highway Authority’s concerns.”
Cllr Steve Beasant argued: “When I turn right at the junction from Bargate to get home, it’s sometimes very, very difficult to get across that road. To then put in the right turn will make it more and more dangerous for cyclists.”
Cllr Henry Hudson said: “We’re looking at over a million pound investment to save one of our favourite buildings. Many people will go on foot and it will be very popular for local residents.”
However, North East Lincolnshire Council found the issues around highway safety to be too much of a risk, with the majority voting against the establishment of the new Co-op store on Bargate.