Malmesbury Waitrose is urged to reconsider site
A group of Malmesbury residents demonstrated their opposition to plans for a new Waitrose store by holding a peaceful protest outside its information day.
The supermarket giant was sharing its plans at the town hall for a 18,000sq ft store with parking for 200 cars, 50 long stay parking spaces and traffic calming measures on land behind the Silk Mills.
Concerned residents gathered outside the event, held in Malmesbury Town Hall, on Thursday, led by David Whitby who organised the protest.
He said: “It went pretty well, we had a good turnout. We had around 18 people most of the time and were there from 5pm to 8.30pm. Even though a few people came and went, we kept the presence up.
“We had 200 flyers with us and got rid of all of them. I had a long discussion with John Banham, the property development surveyor from Waitrose.
“We wanted to put across the message that it’s the wrong site.
“To a certain extent the problem is they only want to build a big shop, they’re not interested in a small shop, and there are probably not many suitable sites anyway. We’d prefer them to go away and reconsider the whole thing.”
Waitrose said more than 200 people attended the information day.
Of the 128 responses it has received to date, 83 per cent supported the plans in principle.
The supermarket said 87 people supported the proposals outright, while 19 supported them with reservations.
A spokesman for Waitrose said the information day outlined a number of changes made to its scheme following feedback received at an exhibition it staged last October.
These included changes to drainage, the re-siting of the car park further away from Avon Mills, a larger landscaped area, more trees to increase screening and a signal-controlled pedestrian crossing to improve the link to the High Street.
Mr Banham said: “We want to ensure our proposal is right for Malmesbury and felt it was important residents had every opportunity to see the changes we have made since our exhibition in October last year.
“We have been encouraged by the positive feedback we received, but are keen to hear from more people on our plans, which can now be viewed on our website.”
Waitrose’s store plans and that of its rival Sainsbury’s for a supermarket on the Nurden garden centre site will not go before Wiltshire Council for a planning decision until after the local Neighbourhood Plan is drawn up, which is unlikely to be before May next year.
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