PLANS to bring Asda to the town have finally been given the green light after a month-long delay.
The application to create the 24-hour store on Jinnah Road was approved by councillors at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday (September 10).
The superstore would be approximately 50,000 sq ft and form part of the existing B&Q warehouse, creating about 400 jobs and saving around 100 at the DIY store.
It followed a previous decision to the delay application to allow councillors time to consider all the information properly after officers suddenly changed their recommendation to reject the application.
They had originally supported the application, claiming although it breached local and national planning laws designed to protect town centres, there was not another viable site.
But new evidence suggested the option for a superstore on the site of Car Park 4 at the Kingfisher Shopping Centre had been incorrectly ruled out and the proposal would damage the town centre.
But Asda hit back with further information showing the Kingfisher proposal was not viable.
Ros Sidaway, from the Town Centre Partnership, said she could not stress enough how critical councillors’ decision would be to the economical health and well being of the town centre.
A representative from Capital and Regional – which owns the Kingfisher- said if the application was approved the town centre would never have a supermarket.
But Philip Bartram, Asda’s senior property communications manager, dismissed the Kingfisher site labelling it a ‘red herring’.
“We will not build on that site, we will never build on that site. It is a red herring. It’s not viable for us and it would not physically work. We do not want anything to do with that site.”
Coun David Thain said it was a big economic decision for the town but he had to support it.
“We are talking about 500 jobs for Redditch, saving 100 and making another 400.”
Coun Joe Baker also backed the application and was pleased the store would not use zero hour contracts.
Coun Jane Potter added members had to approve it otherwise they would be ‘cutting of their noses to spite their own faces’.
Chairman Andy Fry added he did not believe the store would create a detrimental impact on Lodge Park centre, but urged the supermarket’s representatives to work with the Smallwood Residents Association who were worried about the impact of the store.
Coun Michael Braley was the only councillor to reject the plans claiming Asda could not ‘simply pick and choose’ where they wanted to go.
“If this doesn’t suit them they should go somewhere else.” he said.
The majority of councillors agreed to delegate the decision to the head of planning and regeneration where a discussion will also take place on changing the 24 hour opening times.