A Sainsbury’s store which it is claimed will “destroy jobs”and leave Birmingham short of industrial land has been approved on a narrow vote by city planners.
The giant superstore can be built on a former GKN factory site in Old Walsall Road, Hamstead village, despite serious misgivings from the council’s planning committee.
Residents and businesses were also concerned that the store would add to the already high traffic congestion in the area and have called for extra measures to prevent jams.
But two weeks after councillors backed a proposal to protect urban industrial land – ready for future economic growth – some were stunned to see the plan for the derelict factory site.
Coun John Clancy (Lab, Quinton) said: “Good urban industrial land is being given up for grocery retail, I can’t support this.” His colleague Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) also challenged the superstore’s pledge to create 220 jobs.
“Supermarkets destroy jobs,” he said, “because they are so much more ruthlessly efficient than the stores they force to close.”
But a majority of committee members thought that the pledge of jobs and development outweighed their concerns.
Coun Keith Linnecor (Lab, Oscott) said: “The area needs jobs now, not in several years when this phantom recovery comes.”
And Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Con, Weoley) pointed out that an overwhelming majority of local residents wanted the store.
The committee was also reminded that Sainsbury is creating six small industrial workshop units on site and providing £900,000 for the Aston manufacturing site, including transport links to Hamstead rail station.
Earlier David Caro, owner of local business Qualpast, had asked for an extra traffic lane to be created to ease the extra traffic problems expected from the store. But this was not accepted.
Sainsbury’s regional development manager Ben Littman said: “We’re very pleased to have received approval for a new store in Hamstead. We look forward to creating new jobs in the area and improving the local shopping offer.”