Boost for retail giant as town’s residents back store scheme

SUPERMARKET giant Asda’s hopes of opening a store in Elland have been given a major boost after a straw poll found that 95 per cent of residents backed the plans, which would create 200 jobs.

The local community in Elland have given resounding approval to Asda’s new plans for a store in the town.

A public exhibition, held in the Cartwheel Club on Huddersfield Road last month, was visited by more than 100 local residents, and more than 95 per cent of those voiced support.

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Asda has been trying to open a new store in Elland since 2001, and has twice been unsuccessful. The company’s last planning application, in 2007, was turned down by Calderdale Council despite support from the local community.

The scheme fell through following concerns about the potential impact on town centre shoppers.

Since then Asda has been reviewing and refining its plans, resulting in the current scheme, which is smaller than previous proposals but which it claims still offers the same potential benefits.

The location of the Asda proposal remains the same – a brownfield site between Dewsbury Road and Huddersfield Road – but the proposed scheme is made up of a new 19,857 sq ft (sales area) store, alongside a shoppers’ car park with 211 spaces. The store would create up to 200 full- and part- time jobs for local people.

Rival supermarket chain Morrisons has also been pressing ahead with a scheme of its own for a store on the Nu-Swift site at Wistons Lane, creating 250 jobs. However, there is some doubt as to whether the town could host two huge stores.

Sandra Smith, of the Elland Supermarket Support Group, set up to back the Morrisons scheme, said she was not sure there was enough demand to support two stores. A similar situation pertains in Todmorden, where Sainsbury’s and Netto have revealed plans to build stores.

Asda is confident that a new store situated so close to the centre of Elland would bring a range of long-term benefits to the area, not least a substantial improvement in retail choice and competition. As well as benefiting local shoppers, the proposal includes strong pedestrian links between Asda and Elland town centre which have the potential to greatly increase shopper footfall in the town overall.

Most visitors to the Asda exhibition made it clear that Elland needs a better shopping offer, in order to curb the damaging pattern of so many people travelling outside of the town to carry out their main food shopping. Many of those visitors expressed a preference for the Asda proposal, because of its close proximity to the rest of the town.

Asda Property communications manager Philip Bartram said: “We are extremely pleased with the overwhelmingly positive response to our plans from the people of Elland.

‘‘We have been striving for a long time to bring the renowned Asda offer to the town and, as frustrating as recent years have been for our plans, we are as committed as ever to Elland.

‘‘A lot of local people have supported Asda from the very start, and continue to do so. We hope that we’ll be able to repay that loyal support soon.

‘‘The feedback from visitors to our public exhibition demonstrated almost 100 per cent support for Asda, and further feedback is still coming in.

‘‘Many people recognise that only the Asda proposal can boast such strong links with Elland town centre, which could prove crucial in ensuring that local people not only carry out their main food shopping in Elland in the future but also more regularly shop in the rest of the town.

‘‘It is widely acknowledged that Elland is currently struggling to compete with nearby larger shopping destinations and we firmly believe that the Asda store has the capability to play a significant part in reversing that trend and boosting the town’s economy in the long term,” he said.