Supermarket could ‘sweep away’ shops

Boarded up Aspull Village Club which is now being targeted for conversion to an 'express' style supermarket
Boarded up Aspull Village Club which is now being targeted for conversion to an 'express' style supermarket

A SUPERMARKET scheme is causing consternation in a Wigan village.

Plans have been submitted to the council to modify a former leisure building into retail on behalf of an unknown high street tenant.

But independent traders in Aspull are fearful that the scheme will “wipe out” many of the independent shops at the Finger Post.

However, a councillor for the area pointed out today that the development committee are not allowed to use rival commercial arguments to refuse any eventual go-ahead.

Rumours are sweeping the community that Tesco express are the driving force behind the application for the Aspull Village Club, the ex-Aspull Labour Club, which closed at least four years ago.

However, the trading giant insisted to the Observer today: “It’s definitely not us.”

The scheme will be considered by the planning committee later this summer.

Aspull Coun Chris Ready said: “The application at the moment is to demolish half of the old club building but I reckon that they will end up demolishing it all.

“The applicant is from Ramsbottom in east Lancashire and people in the village are saying that he is working on behalf of one of the supermarket companies, but at this stage which one exactly it is is being kept under wraps.

“Some people feel as strongly as to say that it is going to decimate the local community and the existing shops, if it goes ahead.

“However other residents say that they would welcome the choice and the cheaper shopping that it would provide them with without having to got into Wigan itself, because the existing shops hold them to ransom.

“The Truly Scrumptious Cafe have been in touch and they say that they have built their business up from nothing but fear that a supermarket would kill them off and others feel the same way.

“But the reality is it is going to be really difficult to stop it, even if that is what was in the interests of the village, unless the community can come up with planning grounds.

“If somebody is asking me what to do with the building, I would say something that would embrace the needs of the area.

“But the reality is that the type of plans that are going to come forward are those that will make money for the new owner of the site.”

A spokesman for the council’s planning department explained that the application for the site included A1, A2 and A3 uses, which included retail plus food and drink sales (as well as consumption on the premises) plus financial and professional services (excluding health and medical services.