Thrapston’s cattle market will move to the edge of town and work on a new Sainsbury’s in its place will start within 18 months after councillors gave the supermarket the green light this evening.
But Scotts of Thrapston, which has made stables and summer houses in the town for 92 years, may be forced out after East Northamptonshire Council turned down its application for a supermarket on its Bridge Street site.
The two schools in Market Road, where the store bigger than an Olympic swimming pool will be built, said the increased traffic will endager children’s lives and campaign group Save Thrapston, which fought both supermarket plans, branded the decision a ‘disaster’.
But Sainsbury’s said it will create about 150 new jobs and traders said it will tempt shoppers back into the town’s declining High Street.
Robert Oxley, Sainsbury’s development executive for the East Midlands, said: “It’s a great decision for the people of Thrapston. It definitely supports the town centre vitality.”
More than 130 members of the public watched the 16 development control committee members debate the applications for three hours. They only reached a decision after a recorded vote of 15 to one minutes before the allotted time ran out.
The council’s retail consultants advised that residents only shopped enough to support one more supermarket in the town so once councillors followed national planning guidelines that favour town centre retail developments and backed Sainsbury’s they were bound to refuse Scotts’ plan.
But Scotts threatened to move away from the town if it could not fund a local move by redeveloping its current outdated buildings.
Speaking after the meeting, Dan Bramwell, public affairs consultant for Scotts, which employs about 100 people, said: “It’s a sad day for Thrapston and a very sad day for Scotts of Thrapston.
“You have heard they have got to relocate. They have got options out of the area and they have got financial reasons for doing that.”
Several objectors to Sainsbury’s plans, including John O’Leary, headteacher of The King John School, warned of the dangers of up to one HGV every 45 minutes making deliveries in Market Road, which is used by about 1,000 pupils and already blighted by inconsiderate parking.
But the county councils highways department, questioned at length by councillors over the road’s width, lorry movements and parking, raised no objection to Sainsbury’s plan.
The road will probably be changed to a one-way system and some on-street parking removed.
Richard Swindall, 81, a committee member of Save Thrapston, said: “It’s pie in the sky to say it will improve the High Street. It’s a disaster.
“The risk to one little kid’s life is worth turning it down.”
Mr O’Leary said: “I have a duty of care to the children of Thrapston and the other villages that come to the school. I’m disappointed that other people have not supported me in that.”
A new Thrapston Rural Agricultural Centre capable of accommodating up to 550 cattle and 3,000 sheep that councillors approved in May will now be built in Haldens Parkway on the edge of town.
Work on the new supermarket will start once the old cattle market is demolished and new traffic orders put in place.
David Bletsoe, whose family have owned the cattle market, the last livestock market in Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, said: “It’s immensely important. The clear support of so many farmers demonstrates the importance to the farming community.”