Oswestry Supermarket Proposals - Central Car Park
24th June 2010
... Comments

Last week, I attended - along with 30 or so others - a meeting at the Wynnstay Hotel to hear from J.Ross developers their latest proposals on their desire to build a new supermarket on the site of the Central Car Park - land owned by Oswestry Town Council.

Oswestry is in the curious position of having four competing supermarket proposals.  Three are deemed more-or-less "out of town" and three are "developments" as opposed to simply supermarkets, offering other aspects such as cinemas, more shops etc.

spectrum of opinion

As far as local opinions go, I've heard the complete spectrum from "A new supermarket will breathe new life into the town" to "A new supermarket will be the death of this town".  Both opinions - and everything in-between - are given honestly, although no-one can precisely predict either outcome.

Amongst the traders, the spectrum is similarly wide.  Some believing that a new development is needed in Oswestry to "bring in the big names" e.g. Next and provide "something for the young" i.e. cinema.

out-of-town vs in-town

There is a discernable difference too between views on out-of-town vs in-town developments.  Clearly, this is the stage that J.Ross are looking to play on.  In general, out-of-town developments are seen as divisive, although some believe that putting it out-of-town "leaves the town freer" to develop, or "serves nearby housing developments".

the j ross update

The main proposal update involved a new highway system.  It was fairly clear to most of the audience that despite their insistence that their new highways proposals had been checked and tested by all relevant bodies to be workable and vene an improvement from a safety angle, they'd had little input from anyone who actually drives those roads!

It's one thing to look at a computer model of a road, and another thing to drive it, walk and cycle along it.

For me, this showed a startling lack of real understanding, perhaps borne of a fear to really engage with those effected in an open and honest way?

The J.Ross line seemed to be, "A supermarket is coming whether you like it or not, so you may as well go with our in-town proposal, or else you'll get an out-of-town development which will hurt the town more!"

Some would call it "the lesser of four evils", some "emotional blackmail" and some "pragmatism".

strong views

In truth, no-one has the benefit of 20:20 foresight.  And everyone has a differing vision of how this town can move forward over the next 10, 20, 50, 100 years.

Local lobby group OS21 have spent a great deal of time and effort holding all the planner's proposals to task.  And while you may not agree with their own vision of a "Sustainable Oswestry for the 21st Century", they are ensuring that the developers proposals are tested.  This is long, time-consuming and difficult work.

central car park

My honest feelings about the existing Central Car Park proposal is that:

  • the supermarket is way too big and significantly exceeds our need
  • the highways proposal is verging on a joke
  • the look of the development is straight out of the 1970s
  • the attitude of the developers thus far is arrogant

That said, all of this could change - and yes, a pig or two may be seen to fly over the hillfort! :)

Personally, I would be more impressed IF:

  • the supermarket was reduced by a third
  • restrictions were placed on what could be sold to protect local businesses i.e. predominantly food
  • the highways proposal is completely re-designed in partnership with local communities
  • the design is more fitting with a market town and doesn't look like a spaceship from planet bland
  • the attitude of the developers is more open and willing to adopt a partnership approach

Pie in the sky?  Probably.

overfeeding the baby: need vs want

The essential problem is that what the town needs - as has been deemed by independent consultants - is not what the developer wants, for fairly obvious reasons.

It's rather like the feeding of a baby has been handed over to someone who has to get through 3 bottles rather than 1 to meet a target.  When the parents kick up a fuss, the new feeder says, "Well, look, I know it's not what the baby needs, but how about we give you free baby clothing for a year?"

The sad aspect for me is that the developers - the presenters seemed like nice guys - must know in their hearts that they are overfeeding the baby, but they are being paid to do so and have a job to do.

So what do we do? Let them overfeed the baby for the offer of new clothes?

About the Author

John W

Member since: 10th July 2012

A quick introduction - I'm John Waine, Director of TheBestOfOswestry. Having lived in this beautiful area for around 20 years now, I have decided to stay. :)

With kind thanks

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