CONCERNS are mounting about a new Sainsbury’s store for Stobhill.
Residents have been anxious about the site at the former Black Swan pub since building work began last month and when it was confirmed that the supermarket giant was moving in there was a mixed reaction from locals.
Last week the Herald reported fresh fears about the development after it was revealed the shop is applying for a licence to sell alcohol between 6am and midnight.
And now further concerns have been raised about access and parking arrangements.
David Mash, who lives in neighbouring East Gate, said: “We are concerned about the sale of alcohol and noise relating to this, but there is also the parking situation.
“This site is close to the A192 and cars are not going to be able to park out the front of the shop, but Sainsbury’s is extending at the back so there will be less parking area there. The parking area will be smaller.
“We’ve heard that the entrance will be from the back of Shields Road at Jobling Crescent, which is already congested with vehicles. This is going to make it worse.
“At least if Sainsbury’s had consulted people we could have discussed all these things in the best interests of everybody, but it has chosen not to do so. It is a PR disaster.”
Morpeth Town councillor Derek Thompson is also worried about the scheme.
“My main concern is going to be the traffic congestion on that corner,” he said.
“Not everyone is in walking distance of the shop and a lot of people use their car for shopping now because of the need to carry their stuff. People don’t just pop over for a pint of milk now and if you have two or three carrier bag,s it is a car job.
“People are also annoyed about the way Sainsbury’s has gone about it. It was virtually forced to admit what it was doing with the old pub.”
Coun Thompson said there is also dismay at the loss of the pub as a community facility.
“Of course, a lot of people are annoyed because they are losing this facility,” he said.
“The Black Swan was used extensively for meetings and it was a social centre for the community.
“There are no licensed premises left in Stobhill now. If people want a night out they have to go down to Morpeth, which is quite annoying to a lot of people.”
He added: “There are one or two people who have said that the shop will be helpful to them, but most comments I have heard are against this business.”
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “Sainsbury’s is a responsible retailer and is committed to operating our shops with the upmost consideration for our neighbours, keeping any disruption to a minimum. Deliveries to Sainsbury’s shops in residential areas, such as the proposed site in Morpeth, do not take place early in the morning out of respect for local residents.
“There is sufficient provision for off-road customer parking at this site and from our experience of operating convenience shops we know that the majority of customers will visit this shop on foot.”
He added: “Letters have been sent out to neighbouring businesses and adjacent residential properties in Shields Road, detailing our plans and providing the opportunity to ask questions. A meeting has also been scheduled for early in the New Year between Sainsbury’s representatives and the local ward councillor.”
The business has previously said that while it is standard practice to apply for an alcohol licence from 6am to midnight, the Stobhill store will only be open until 11pm.
Staff will also be trained to ask for ID before selling alcohol to anyone who looks like they may be under the age of 25 and will be made aware of their legal obligations and social responsibility.