Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Sainsbury effect

With the Leader of the Council Kevin Madge, along with Sainsburys screeching from the council website it might be worth looking a little closer at the reasons for the Llandeilo/Cross Hands call-in.

Firstly, the Council were obligated to refer the matter themselves to the Welsh Government under the 'Shopping directive' because, when considered with other eligible proposals in the area the combined floorspace exceeded 20,000sq m. Kev seems to have forgotten this.

Secondary to this were the individual requests, notably from the Plaid MP and AM against whom Kev used the taxpayer funded council website to lose the plot. When 'call-ins' are considered, it is not whether permissions should be granted or not, but who should be making the decisions which is at issue. The "Welsh government policy is to interfere with the responsibilites of local planning authorities only when it is necessary to do so"; in this case it was the cumulative impact of the two stores which was identified as the main issues raised and warranted "taking the application out of the hands of Carmarthenshire County Council".

So,  putting aside local views on the merits or otherwise of the two stores, the Welsh Government were of the view that Carmarthenshire Council were not capable of making the decision, either through a poor assessment of the impact or through lack of objectivity, take your pick.

The WG assessment states that Nathaniel Lichfield Partnership identified that if the two stores operated at the full market rate, this would produce a loss of £36.15m to other retailers in the area, based on that figure, NLP said that the two stores could not be supported.

Sainsburys then came forward to the Council and promised to operate at only 80% average turnover. So, with the help of Sainsburys, the figures were then re-jigged by the Council who came up with a much reduced and slightly more palatable impact of £5.89m.  The Council, using Sainsburys figures, concluded that "there is sufficient commercial case within the County to make both stores viable". 

Anyone with half a brain would be somewhat sceptical that Sainsburys would actively seek to reduce their turnover by 20%, how would they do it? tell customers to go away, 'we've sold quite enough for one day'? It seems the WG is equally sceptical;

"however it is not clear from either officer report whether, or how, that assumption could be assured by the Council either with Sainsburys as the operator or any subsequent operator. Given that the council has to a large extent predicted the acceptability of these two proposals operating together on the basis of a reduced turnover we consider this to be a significant omission in the assessment of the proposals..."

So it would appear that after commissioning a myriad of expensive retail assessments from NLP, White Young Green and Savils, the most influential voice in County Hall was Sainsburys. How unsurprising.

As the two applications were recommended for approval at officer level but were referred to the Planning Committee for the rubber stamp, it is the Committee which is referred to in the Call-in letter, dated the 20th July;

"In our view there is insufficient information in these respects [cumulative impact] to show that all policy considerations have been fully addressed by Carmarthenshire County Council's Planning Committee in reaching its decision on these applications" 


Anonymous said...

unless my arithmatic has gone pear shaped, it would be very interesting to know how they managed to achieve 5.89m.

if 100% is 36m,surely 80% is 28.8m?
heck of a drop that. unless they're cancelling the petrol station. otherwise that 5m figure doesn't seem to make sense at all and looks a bit suspicious

caebrwyn said...

By Sainsburys offering to trade at 80% of its average capacity, it enabled a re-assessment of the figures and a few tweaks later, the lower figure was arrived at.

Anonymous said...

some tweak that is tho. Nah, if they knocked off the petrol, that would come off the square footage. Unless they're not going to sell things like televisions or something high priced like laptops,dvd players. Or a last roll of the dice, reduce the opening times by 20%.. But that still doesn't add works out over 7k per person per year. If the assesors have come up with that, what else have they come up with elsewhere past and present? It would hardly be likely that they made an error. Unless crosshands had more of a range than llandeilo that could explain the jump down. If that is so, you are looking at tv etc, in competition with leekes (a2)

Anonymous said...

that has to be it, leekes. that attracts a lot of people from surrounding areas, so it's not just a case of local populate purchasing televisions. it's not 4k spending 7k anymore, it becomes 40k spending 700 or 80k spending 350 annually. it shouldn't be calculated that way to llandeilo as they are different scenarios. llandeilo attracts the vistor and tourist, leekes attracts the consumer.

If this is correct, then the figure they came up with is correct, there is no skullduggery in the drop from 36m to 7m :-(

Maybe sainsbury in crosshands were thinking of selling things like paint which would be in competition with leekes, bits and bobs like homeware (plates, dishes, pillows, bedding).
i would say the electrical side would come to that figure but only on the basis of crosshands. i can't apply that principle to achieve that figure to llandeilo. maybe they have, maybe they haven't, who knows(a2)

Anonymous said...

allegations of wrong plans showed to the committee, riddled with irregularities, information supplied was substandard and deficient. action group taken the group's case to the welsh assembly.
From the outset there have been rumours that Sainsbury's superstore is a done deal.

planning expert Kedrick Davies said the land was allocated for employment in Carmarthenshire Council's Unitary Development Plan — and critically not for retail.

The council's planning committee is expected to consider the application for the site bordering the A40 road east of Llandeilo on Thursday, March 29, although previous dates for the decision had been held up, reportedly because of discussions between the county council and Welsh Government.

so, they had discussions with the welsh office, approveded the application and it got called in after the welsh office were kept odd (a2)

Anonymous said...

ah, william powell am mid and west wales

funny how k.madge didn't know about this (a2)

caebrwyn said...

Anon 21.05

I have now included a link to William Powell's call-in letter in my latest post.

Anonymous said...

yeah, i remembered it when you put it up in march.

i couldn't work out how the crosshands one got called in too. actually i never knew it did until the weekend.

either mr griffiths called it in (if any powers are given to a probable conflict without referal).. all he had to do is read the council website.. or someone else contacted mr griffiths or mr powell more recently and remains anonymous). (a2)