BUSINESS owners have said plans to build a £40 million retail park in Sandbach may lead to the town centre’s ‘permanent decline’.
Members of Sandbach Traders and Retailers (STAR) group are concerned about the impact the Muller Property Group proposal might have on nearby independent shops.
STAR will hold a meeting at 5.30pm tonight, Wednesday 18 July, in The Sandbach Enterprise Centre, Wesley Avenue, Sandbach to discuss the proposals.
A 20-acre site west of the A534 Old Mill Road has been earmarked for the retail park, which would incorporate a supermarket, garden centre, a Marstons pub, Premier Inn hotel, KFC drive through, Starbucks cafe, and start-up business premises.
Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda have all lodged interest in the scheme.
Elaine Kelly, chairman of STAR, said: "We are not against investment or increased choice and actively support the creation of new jobs and inward investment into the town.
“However, any new development must be considered in its wider context and the impact this will have on the vitality of Sandbach town centre and surrounding areas, the associated environmental impact and consequences, and the repercussions this will have on local residents.”
The retail site, incorporating designated lanes for a shuttle bus service, would be linked to the Old Mill Road by a new roundabout with pelican crossings to access the town centre.
The Muller Property group proposal will be submitted to Cheshire East at the end of the month, and could be completed by 2015, subject to planning permission.
In a statement, STAR highlighted the number of empty retail units in the town centre.
The statement read: ‘There is a genuine fear that the town centre will see a loss of many long standing and speciality retailers, resulting in the town centre falling into permanent decline.’
They added that the Muller Property proposal put pressure on retailers who were ‘already struggling to survive the drawn out double-dip recession.’
They also had reservations about the loss of open countryside and the ‘yet unknown’ environmental consequences of the scheme.
Muller Property Group contends the scheme will provide 600 new jobs and ensure Sandbach maintains ‘vibrant and lively shopping options for years to come’.
To find out more about Sandbach Traders and Retailers visit www.sandbach-star.org.uk