Store wins out on trade times

A NEW supermarket has won the battle to extend bank-holiday opening hours, but concern remains.

Permission for a new Morrisons store off Staithes Lane was granted by Northumberland County Council in July 2011, but strict conditions were applied to minimise disruption to neighbours.

The supermarket is set to open later this month and had sought permission to amend trading hours on Easter Monday, which had been restricted to six hours between 10am and 6pm, to the same as those for Monday to Saturday opening, from 8am to 10pm.

Morpeth Town Council opposed the move, saying there was no reason to justify the change.

However, the application has been approved by Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee by five votes to three.

Town councillor Ken Brown, who spoke against the plans, said: “The town council objected because the original condition was to reduce noise for residents.

“The applicant simply applied to get that condition removed, but gave no reason why other than it allows it to extend trading times. As far as the town council was concerned, there was no valid reason for it to be changed.

“Unfortunately, the council’s public protection team didn’t object, even though it had applied the condition.

“The concern we have now is that further conditions might well be lifted, which would cause local residents more difficulties.

“The conditions were put in for very good reasons. The residents of Staithes Lane have suffered tremendously during the development of the site and I don’t think we really know what the real impact is going to be when the supermarket opens.”

County councillor David Bawn also objected in a letter to the committee urging members to reject the amendment.

He said: “Big developers put in applications and agree to conditions then they make lots of little changes at the expense of their neighbours.

“This could be the tip of the iceberg. There may not be a big impact individually, but cumulatively it really changes the way sites are supposed to be run.”

Morrisons Development Executive Andrew Wood said: “We applied for an amendment to the current trading hours on Easter Monday to bring them in line with the existing Morrisons’ store. The trading hours for Easter Monday had mistakenly been set as Sunday trading hours instead of those for a bank holiday, which differ slightly.

“We can reassure residents that we have no plans at present to ask for further changes.”