New fears surface over supermarket delivery plans

A SUPERMARKET could be trying to ‘sneak through’ changes to delivery restrictions after previously dropping the plans, councillors fear.

Late last year, Morrisons submitted a bid to amend opening hours and remove delivery constraints for its new Dark Lane store that had been agreed when plans for the development were passed in July 2011.

However, following outcry from neighbouring residents in Staithes Lane and strong objection from Morpeth Town Council, the retail giant withdrew the application and said it would issue a new one covering opening hours only.

Now a proposal has been put forward that on the surface seeks only to vary Easter Monday trading hours to be the same as other days.

But at a meeting of the town council’s Planning and Transport Committee last week, member Ken Brown pointed out that the detail of the application also includes a request ‘to remove all delivery restrictions’.

He said: “The conditions are there to protect residential amenity. The thing with this application is that it just slips in ‘to remove all delivery restrictions’.

“The restriction for Easter Monday itself has been put in there for a good reason in the first place and the applicant hasn’t given any reason whatsoever for why it should be changed. It could be considered that it is trying to sneak through this removal of delivery restrictions.

“I propose that we object to the whole thing.”

Coun Les Cassie said: “Morrisons appeared to withdraw this and now it is asking again with different words. This is Morrisons trying to overturn the restrictions.”

And Coun David Parker said: “I object to the removal of delivery restrictions most definitely. We need to object to this most forcefully.”

The committee will write to Northumberland County Council, which will determine the application, stating its opposition.

Staithes Lane resident Marcus Hopper was shocked when the Herald contacted him about the issue.

“The last notification we got was to amend condition 49, which is Easter Monday trading. We will definitely be objecting if it is to remove delivery restrictions,” he said.

“We are all unanimous about how we feel about this. Morrisons has taken the premises on knowing there are restrictions there so why should it be allowed to get rid of them?

“If this goes through we are going to have articulated wagons within 10ft of our doors and bedroom windows going through 24 hours a day. It is unbelievable.

“They have built a public service road in the middle of a residential area so it should have residential rules. You can’t have heavy traffic running through the middle of the night in the middle of a residential area.”

Under the current conditions deliveries cannot take place before 7am or after 10pm Monday to Saturday, or before 9am on Sundays and Easter Monday.

But Mr Hopper says even these restrictions are not enough.

“It is excessive as it is,” he said.

“As a nightshift worker it is going to be playing havoc during the day for me getting some sleep. If it is going to continue through the night as well it means when I’m off I will get no sleep through the night either.

“If there are 24-hour deliveries it is just going to be a nightmare.”

Mr Hopper says that even if Morrisons does not intend to remove the restrictions, changing trading hours for Easter Monday will also be a problem.

“We are entitled to enjoy our bank holidays just like everybody else,” he said.

“The supermarket car park and everything is 30ft from our gardens and our back doors and this will just mean more noise. We are entitled to our bank holidays so why should we have to sit and listen to cars starting up and a supermarket being open until 10pm? If this is allowed where does it stop? Sunday nights? Good Friday?”

Morrisons did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.