Radio Cumbria Interview with Sainsbury's on development
Mike Parr Breakfast Show - broadcast Fri 27th August 2010
It's been an open secret in Kendal for the last few years that a supermarket chain had it's eye's on the Kendal cricket club site for a new supermarket (sport village / sainsburys) and also the old United Utilises/NthWest Water deport (source Lakeland Radio). Last Thursday Sainsbury's made it publicly known locally (source Westmorland Gazette) that it was interested in developing on the site and started it's publicity campaign to win the locals over.
At this point little is known on the detailed plans they have for the site, Probable due to one point which I'll come to later which will probable result in it going no where, Sainsbury's has decided to start of with a publicity drive this week with interviews through the local media (you should be hearing the BBC Radio Cumbria interview playing now, if not look at end of post). Then on Fri/Sat 3rd/4th September they will host a public exhibition on the supermarket and sports village plans to get locals on side.
The sports village would be sited on Jubilee Fields behind Kendal's Rugby Club of Shap Road. The land owner of the Cricket Club is Fields In Trust that also own the Jubilee Fields site which comprises of mostly football pitches and a cricket pitch. The field where the cricket pitch is situated was original owned by Provincial Insurance (AXA), used by it employees + families up until AXA decide to close their offices in the town, in closing their association with Kendal they donated this land to Fields In Trust for the benefit of the town. Jubilee Fields is on a flood plain, part of an area of Kendal intended to be flooded in the first line of defence in protecting properties on long the river through Kendal. FiT would like to build a sport village on this land, in news reports they've said the village will have flood protections, not found any details on the level of protection, whether it's to stop any flood water entering the site (unlikely), or protect to a degree so damage/clear-up is minimized.
is the old Provincial Insurance recreational area
and right of that is Kendal Rugby Club
The size of the proposes Sainsbury's supermarket is comparable to Kendal's Morrison's, which makes this a large development, following two photos show how similar the sites are in size.
Sainsbury's Proposed Site, area marked in red
including the old United Utilities depot
Fields In Trust have come to an agreement that they are happy to sell the land to Sainsbury's, but Fields In Trust can only sell if Kendal Cricket Club are willing to give up their lease on the site that runs till 2026, hence why the Sport's Village carrot is being dangled in an attempt to having them vacate. So far KCC have indicated that they have no interest in moving, which doesn't surprise me, you have a long lease, good facilities, close to town to get local's using the club house which help fund the running of the club - if it ain't broke comes to mind.
How appealing is the carrot? Well you'll get new modern facilities, but it's on a flood plain, there will be some flood protection but when it floods how much will it cost to get back into a usable state, to what degree will it be flood protected, will you be able to get insurance for the place. How are you going to fund the place, will people be willing to walk to Jubilee Fields for a pint or social function, a couple of pubs have closed at that end of town and the clientell are now using the Cricket Club which helps run the club, I doubt they'd use the proposed alternative site at their local.
If KCC did decide to move then the second problem Sainsbury's will have is the traffic in that area of the town, every local know how bad it currently is with a 10minute journey to that end of town taking at certain times of the day an hour. On a Friday peak time traffic is nearly all day as alot of business start finishing for lunchtime onwards. The development to turn Kendal's Rugby Club into a retail store (Aldi sized) and smaller retail stores had it's application turned down due to the additional traffic that would have a negative impact of the Shap Road especially at the Longpool end. It was envisaged that the small development would result in 180 extra car journeys in both directions each hour which the inspector deemed too much for Kendal's traffic system to cope with. The developers resubmitted with a change which consisted of the placement of a pedestrian island between the Station and newsagents on Longpool, I personally can't see how this would improve the traffic flow and you only need to see how often the cross is used to see what little effect it would have. The application hasn't been read yet and reports are that the Rugby club are no longer moving. (SLDC - Rugby Club Appeal Rejection)
Smaller developer at Kendal's Rugby Club
Traffic change proposed for Rugby Club development
that formed the basis for appeal, change the crossing
at the Station to a two stage crossing
So you have the wonder what chance Sainsbury's have at getting approval on ground of the traffic in that area of town, considers they will have more traffic baring on Kendal's traffic system than the Rugby Club development, this is the area I'll be in see how they plan to over come this area as I can see bottle necks at Cricket Club junction, Duke of Cumberland junction, Kendal Station, Sandylands Road junction. I envision at least two or three new roundabouts, but I hope they don't want to introduce more traffic signals
So what chance have Sainsbury's of getting it's hands of the site in the short term, probable at this stage very little, but they're in a race to get into Kendal against the other big players like Tesco.
If this was rejected would it stop supermarkets trying to site themselves in Kendal? No - Kendal is a prime location for a base to support the expanding customer base of home deliveries through out the south lakes, though there may not be foot fall to support main more supermarkets in the town, everyone of the big players will need a presense in Kendal in order to expand and get the most profit out of their home delivery services. There is a possibility that Kendal will be home to ghost supermarkets over the next 10 years like is currently happening in London (source Daily Mail)
This may all be a pointless exercise for Sainsbury's, if I was the Cricket Club I'd say not interested come back in 10 years and we may talk then ;)
Proposals will be on display at Stricklandgate House, Stricklandgate, Kendal on:-
Friday 3rd September 11am-7pm
Saturday 4th September 10am-2pm.