Warning over Sainsbury’s scheme: ‘Supermarket will take the last green out of Chiswell’

The Three Hammers pub

The Three Hammers pub - Credit: Archant

Sainsbury’s has been accused of ruthlessly pushing plans to build a £2.5 million store on a historic pub’s garden after it refused to wait for a council decision on its contentious scheme.

The supermarket giant lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate – on the day its scheme was to have been decided by St Albans district council, despite the authority agreeing to consider late changes.

Scores of objections flooded in from residents after Sainsbury’s asked for permission to build a convenience store in the garden of Grade II listed Three Hammers Pub, Watford Road, Chiswell Green.

The statutory period for determination ended January 19, but Sainsbury’s submitted revised plans with changes in relation to the scale, height and design of the proposed building last month.

That meant the earliest the council could list the application for a decision by a plans south committee was this Monday, March 23.

So councillors at that meeting were surprised to be told that Sainsbury’s had suddenly appealed on the grounds of non-determination of the bid within the statutory timeframe.

As a result, a planning inspector will now officially determine it.

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The committee resolved that had it been able to decide the scheme, it would have been refused. The reasons for refusal, including siting, scale, design and harm to a listed building, will now form the basis of the council’s case for the appeal.

During the meeting George Old, representing the Chiswell Green Residents’ Association, warned the store would result in the loss of the only green space in the village centre.

He added: “This is the heart of Chiswell Green. The convenience store, which has the appearance of a bunker, will be a complete contrast and out of keeping with this ancient pub.”

St Stephen parish councillor Michael Freeman said: “This historic landmark must not be cheapened by a convenience supermarket being built right next door to it.

“If it is not refused, Chiswell Green might as well be known as Chiswell, because there will be no green left.”

The committee was told by a Sainsbury’s representative that about 25 people would be employed at the new store and the scheme “would not result in adverse impacts”.

After the meeting Cllr Aislinn Lee said: “Quite frankly, it is unusual for a developer to go straight to appeal before we get to make a decision, but I guess they knew it would be refused. Sainsbury’s are playing roughshod with the feelings of the local community.”