Proposal to build Royston Waitrose supermarket receives thumbs up from council officers

Barrington Parish Council is holding two public meetings on a homes plan for the village.

Barrington Parish Council is holding two public meetings on a homes plan for the village. - Credit: Archant

A proposal to build a new supermarket in Royston has received the thumbs up from council officers.

The Royston Gateway scheme, which includes a Waitrose supermarket, a new roundabout and a storage depot for Johnson Matthey, has been recommended for approval ahead of North Herts District Council’s planning committee meeting next Wednesday night.

If approved, a Waitrose store with 200 car parking spaces would be built next to the Orchard Road industrial estate, as well as a new junction on the A505 – meaning Johnson Matthey lorries would no longer have to run through the town.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald said: “I am very supportive of the application. I think it is important that Johnson Matthey have the area to expand.

“I live in Royston and the people I talk to are very exited about Waitrose – I think it will be a good addition to the town.”

Johnson Matthey site planning and services director John Gourd said: “The Royston site is the company’s largest, employing almost 2,000 staff.

“Existing storage facilities are spread over four different locations in three different counties and the new storage centre will deliver far greater efficiency to the business.

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“The proposed new warehouse will provide the opportunity to consolidate storage operations for the company within a single building in close proximity to the production centre – adding approximately 35 jobs.

“In addition, the number of HGV traffic movements and travel distances will be reduced as a result of the warehouse being located in Royston.

“The new warehouse will deliver substantial sustainability benefits in terms of reduced emissions and fewer articulated vehicles using Royston’s existing road network.”

Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc, which has a Morrisons store on Baldock Street, raised objections to the plans citing the ‘significant adverse impact on the town centre’ and the ‘existing fragile trading performance of the Morrisons store’.

In conclusion the report sent by council officers to the planning committee said: “The proposed scheme represents a significant investment for Royston and, overall, the benefits of an approval in advance of formal allocation of this site outweigh any identifiable harm.

“A new Waitrose store in this location should not impact adversely on existing town centre retailers, including Morrisons.”

A condition of the recommendation is the provision of a bus service to ‘loop within the site to serve the development’.

The 7.30pm planning committee meeting has been moved from the Council Chamber to the Icknield Centre in Letchworth.