DEFERRED plans for a large extension to a suburban supermarket are recommended for approval.
The application, made by Sainsbury's at Caldy Valley Road, Great Boughton, is opposed by parish councillors and neighbours.
The company has told planning officers at Chester City Council it is proposing to enlarge the sales area from 3,133sqm to 5,400sqm including a new mezzanine floor.
Other changes include a new store entrance, the relocation of the cafe, alterations to the 400 space car park and landscaping.
A contribution of £100,000 would be made under a legal agreement towards the cost of highways and transport measures.
Objecting to the extension to the store, which originally had permission in 1981, Great Boughton Parish Council says it is concerned about extra traffic and its effect on Sainsbury's roundabout at the junction of the A41 and Caldy Valley Road.
Parish councillors believe a predicted increase in traffic “seems unrealistically low” and say they cannot accept there would be no significant increase in traffic at the main roundabout
Councillors feel that more car parking spaces will be needed and have asked for a travel plan.
They suggest the exit from the superstore car park directly on to Caldy Valley Road should become an entrance and all customers should leave via the mini roundabout onto the road.
They also fear changes to the appearance of the store frontage will be unsympathetic to local surroundings.
Neighbours have told the city council they are worried about late night working on the extension and the possible effect of any new signage and lighting.
Two thirds of the floor space would be used for food shopping and one third, in the new mezzanine, for comparison goods, according to a report.
The cafe would move to the mezzanine which would be reached by travellators, a lift and stairs.
The extended store would still be appropriate for its location in the Caldy Valley/Boughton Heath suburb, suggest planning officers.
The increase in size would improve its offer and shopper experience.
For Sainsbury's, consulting engineers have submitted an assessment which says the supermarket is “highly accessible by public transport, walking and cycling.
Sainsbury's also controls underused parking in front of neighbouring units on Caldy Valley Road, planning officers point out.
The existing exit from the store car park would be removed and all traffic entering and leaving the supermarket would use the mini roundabout on Caldy Valley Road.
A pedestrian crossing to the supermarket would be upgraded.
The County Engineer is said to have had “grave concerns” about the effect of the extension on Sainsbury's roundabout on the A41 which already suffers from “significant congestion and safety issues”, the report reveals.
Any increase in traffic, particularly on the Caldy Valley Road approach, would have a detrimental effect.
He believes, however, that increased traffic from the extension to the supermarket would be insufficient to justify a complete redesign of the junction, which would run into millions of pounds and has raised no objections.
Some measures to reduce the effect on the roundabout are said to be needed and an assessment of these and their implementation would be covered by the £100,000 contribution to be made by Sainsbury's.
The application was recommended for approval to December's meeting of the city's planning board but councillors decided to defer the matter for more information about access arrangements.
They are due to hear on Wednesday (December 7) that alterations are proposed to the entrance and exit of the car park which are to be smoothed and widened.
The county engineer believes the changes would deal with any concerns about traffic maneuvering into and out of the supermarket car park.
The application is recommended for permission at a meeting of the board taking place at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Wednesday at 10.30am.
At last month's meeting, Boughton Heath Cllr Jim Latham (Lib Dem) remarked that mezzanines had been approved at other stores but said his main concern was the effect on small local shops.
He was also worried about the effect on the city centre, particularly as the Northgate Development “is in paralysis”.
He described the situation at the A41 roundabout as “horrendous”.
Cllr Gwyn Cooper (Lab, City & St Anne's) backed the parish council's “in and out” idea while Labour planning spokesman Cllr Sandra Rudd (College) described car parking at the store as “one of the worst in the city”.
Exiting the car park onto Caldy Valley road “is the problem” she believed.
“It can take ages,” commented Cllr Rudd suggesting there would be chaos at the mini roundabout.
Mollington Cllr Brian Crowe (Con) said he also supported the parish council's idea as did Cllr Paul Cheetham (Lib Dem, Vicars Cross).
For the County Engineer, Mr Paul Parry said, however: “Changing the exit to an entrance would worsen the situation due to right turning traffic. It would also be close to the pedestrian crossing.”
He said a proposed study would allow the highway authority to see what could be done about the main roundabout but suggested that any additional traffic due to the extension would have “a negligible effect” which would be insufficient to justify refusal.
Hoole Groves Cllr David Hull (Lib Dem) feared that traffic at the entrance to the store “will get really snarled up” and suggested the application should be refused due to the inadequate entrance and exit.
Cllr Terri Gray (Con, Newton Brook) described the A41 roundabout as a “danger trap” and added: “Even driving round the car park is very dangerous.”
She was prevented by planning chairman Cllr Andrew Storrar (Con, Saughall) from continuing.
“The concerns raised by people about the access from the mini roundabout are real. It is an extremely awkward turn and widening is essential,” suggested Cllr Latham.
He supported refusal on the grounds that traffic issues had not been significantly resolved although he added: “I hope it will eventually be approved.”