Spalding traders fight “nail in the coffin” supermarket plan

Save Your Independent Shops protest in Market Place on Monday. ANL-160711-094645001
Save Your Independent Shops protest in Market Place on Monday. ANL-160711-094645001
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More than a dozen of Spalding’s independent traders are uniting to fight plans for a Timpson Pod that they claim could hit their businesses.

Sainsbury’s is seeking planning consent for the ‘pod’ close to its store in Holland Market, which will be a one-stop shop for a host of services.

It’s quite difficult in the High Street at the moment and I think this would probably be another nail in the coffin.

Dry cleaner Geoff Neal

But independent business bosses say it will hit a variety of trades in town, including shoe repairs, dry cleaners, mobile phone repairs, photo services and jewellers who do clock and watch repairs.

David McAllister, of J B Shoe Repairs in Pied Calf Yard, said: “It affects 14 independent traders in the town.

“It’s all the niche services they are hoovering up into one portable cabin pod.

“It’s not just the fact that it’s competition, I have had competition in the town many a time over the years, it’s just the effect on the High Street, really.

“This is likely to be a strain on the struggling High Street and it’s not just the High Street because it affects a few market stalls as well.

“Sainsbury’s have got everything there – they do absolutely everything – and now they are just trying to corner every market going.”

Traders are appealing to the public to formally object to the planning application.

David said people can comment on www.sholland.gov.uk by clicking on ‘planning and building control’, then clicking on ‘find and comment on planning applications’, typing in the plan reference number H16-1056-16 and following the instructions under ‘enter comment’.

He says residents can also write to the planning department at South Holland District Council in Priory Road, Spalding PE11 2XE.

David says several leading supermarkets have asked for Timpson Pods but, in one case, plans were withdrawn after a trader wrote to the CEO of Tesco because of the feared impact of the pod on High Street trade.

He says Spalding traders are going to follow that example by writing to Sainsbury’s CEO and hope Sainsbury’s has a change of heart.

Geoff Neal, from Geoff Neal and Sons Dry Cleaners, has traded in Bridge Street since 1955.

He said the pod will reduce footfall into local shops.

“It’s quite difficult in the High Street at the moment and I think this would probably be another nail in the coffin,” said Geoff.

Speaking in Market Place yesterday, Laurence Hayes, of White Knight mobile locksmiths, agreed the pod will damage the High Street.

“Nobody is going to come up here,” he said. “Everybody’s going to go to the supermarket and no one’s going to walk around town. It’s just going to kill the local businesses.”

David says plans show the pod will go in front of Wilkos, close to disabled parking bays, and questions whether drivers using those spaces will have enough room.

He’s also questioning the thinking behind the addition of a portable cabin in the car park of an attractively designed shopping development.

A Sainsbury’s spokespman said: “We’ve submitted plans for a new Timpson’s pod which will provide a range of services to customers who shop at our Spalding store. We look forward to a decision in the near future.

“The location of the pod will not impact on parking facilities and we will not be losing any spaces.

“In terms of design it is sympathetic to the local area and will not detract from the nearby market.”