Morrisons plans for Weybridge thrown out
Plans for a Morrisons supermarket at the old Focus DIY site in Weybridge have been refused by Elmbridge Council, despite last minute attempts to alter the application.
Members of the planning committee were told not to judge the application on any changes that had been put forward as none had been considered by planning officers.
Morrisons handed out leaflets in Weybridge last weekend to illustrate the changes it hoped to make to its current application.
They included reducing the height of the food store along Monument Hill by more than 3m, redesigning the car park to create up to 20 extra customer spaces and reducing the rear height of the building to Baker Street.
Speaking after the meeting, Raymond Spary, joint chairman of the Weybridge Society, said: “The Weybridge Society is very pleased that this proposal has been refused and refused so strongly.
“Not a single person supported it and we hope that Morrisons will not take this matter to appeal and will proceed with a subsequent application that is much more suitable.”
Richard Haynes, development executive at Morrisons, said the size of the retail site was appropriate for Weybridge.
He said: “The continued investment in the town would be about £4m a year. I was surprised to hear two weeks ago that the recommendation was to refuse the application.
“We would bring 300 new jobs to Weybridge in time for Christmas next year and would provide somewhere affordable in Weybridge for people to do their weekly shop.”
The submitted application would convert the former Focus building of 2,227sq m into a new food store of 6,396sq m with an undercroft car park of 220 spaces.
Neighbouring office units would also be demolished in order to accommodate the store. Councillor Glenn Dearlove said the site was “two-and-a-half to three times the size of the existing unit”.
Councillor Ramon Gray said there were three main issues; the change to the town, traffic and parking and the scale, mass and design of the store.
He said: “Weybridge is changing and it will change irrespective if Morrisons comes to Weybridge or not. How it will change, I wish I knew.
"In my view it will aid footfall.
"I don’t think the design is acceptable at all. It looks like a box with a few added windows. I think this proposal is not acceptable."
Richard Haynes, development executive for Morrisons, said: “We recognise the committee’s decision to refuse our application and we are pleased that there is support among a number of residents, the officers and committee members for the principle of a Morrisons foodstore on our Monument Hill development site.
"We now plan to review our proposals addressing the valuable feedback from the committee. We remain committed to taking forward our plans, and to bringing 300 jobs and affordable food shopping to Weybridge in a way that supports the High Street.”
The plan was refused by seven councillors – none approved. Elmbridge Council received 747 letters objecting, 15 letters of support and 12 letters making comment.