Published: 11:05, 05 July 2019
| Updated: 12:03, 05 July 2019
The campaign to persuade retail giant Sainsbury's to take some action over its failed promise to build a supermarket in Staplehurst is hotting up.
The parish council has waded into the fray, firing off angry letters to Sainsbury's, Maidstone council, Kent County Council and MP Helen Grant.
The retailer first put forward detailed proposals to build a supermarket at the north end of the village in 2011.
By 2013, they had gained planning permission for a store in Station Approach and soon built a new factory for the then occupants of the site, DK Holdings to move to.
The company subsequently also acquired the former Texaco garage in the High Street, to convert to its own filling station.
Since then, nothing has happened.
The parish council told Sainsbury's: "It has now become a big concern among our residents that not only is there no sign of any progress in building a supermarket, but also lack of progress is having a huge negative effect on the community.
"It is felt that the two sites Sainsbury’s currently own in Staplehurst, incorporating the proposed supermarket and the proposed petrol station, are having a very damaging visual impact on the village and portraying a bad image of the village in an economic sense.
"We feel the situation is having a negative effect on commercial investment into the village and could be affecting house sales and house prices" - Staplehurst Parish Council
"The traveller’s experience, when arriving in Staplehurst from the north, is to pass the derelict factory area, with timber hoarding surrounding it and as one enters further into the village, adjacent to the crossroads there is the derelict petrol station, again with timber hoarding surrounding it.
"The petrol station is close to the conservation area and directly opposite a tree-lined avenue.
"The visual impact these sites have on Staplehurst is significant.
"We feel the situation is having a negative effect on commercial investment into the village and could be affecting house sales and house prices.
"Community groups are concerned that we cannot improve the look of the village with these two eyesores in place.
Parish council chairman Paddy Riordan told KentOnline: "It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Sainsbury’s is manipulating planning regulations by carrying out minor works at the supermarket site in order to maintain the validity of the planning consent, a view which may well continue to damage the relationship between Sainsbury's and residents into the future.
"While the parish council has had some correspondence from Sainsbury’s, this has been sporadic at best and there does not seem to be any proposed movement in the company’s standpoint at the current time.
"Very little positive information is forthcoming and we fear that the two eyesores in the village, which have been in place for approximately five years, will be in place indefinitely. "
The council has asked Sainsbury's to provide detailed information on how it proposes to move forward, with a detailed time-scale.
It also wants the superstore to imp make immediate improvements to the ex appearance of the two sites.
It warned Sainsbury's: "Residents are totally fed up and if no action is forthcoming, they will have little option but to campaign publicly for a solution using all means available."
More by this authorAlan Smith