Published: June 20, 2013
Objections over Asda's plans for low-cost petrol station in Highbridge

Town councillors have this week formally lodged an objection over plans by Asda to build a new low-cost petrol station outside its Highbridge store.

During a meeting last night (Wednesday, June 19th), members of the Town Council's Planning Applications Committee expressed safety concerns about extra traffic at the site and the impact on residents living nearby. first reported here that Asda wants to build an eight-pump automated petrol station in the small parking area at the entry to the Caxton Road store.

Cllr Helen Groves told last night's meeting: "I fully support the principal of more competition to push down prices, but this is not the right location for a new petrol station."

"Flows of traffic are already very high at the entrance to the store during peak times and the petrol station would only make those problems worse. I feel this is over-development of the site. I would support it in a more safer location."

Committee Chairwoman Cllr Pat Burge added: "This is the wrong area for a petrol station - it's far too near the blocks of flats and I'm also concerned that it would bring a big increase in traffic at this busy entrance."

Ward councillor Chris Williams said: "Traffic would enter the petrol station by driving along part of the service road and then come out onto the tight, sharp bend which would be dangerous."

"I am also concerned that Sedgemoor District Council and Raglan Homes developed the social housing next to this site and that none of the residents who live there had any idea of these plans at the time as another area of the Asda site had been suggested."

And Cllr Paul Young said: "It's a good idea from a retail point of view. Everyone wants cut-price fuel in the area, but more consultation is needed on the highways issues."

Town Clerk Denise Emery added that eight letters have been sent by the general public so far - six objections and two in support of the plans.

"Some residents are keen to see a petrol station here on competition grounds, but others are concerned that granting this application will set a precedent and enable Burnham's Tesco store to submit an application of its own," she said.

Sedgemoor District Council's planning department is welcoming feedback from residents until June 28th as part of its consultation period. It will make a final decision on whether the scheme goes ahead during July or August.

Asda says the station would be unmanned most of the time, although the station would have a 'forecourt greeter' 65 hours each week to help customers at busier trading times.

The firm explains: "The pumps will be fully automated and self-service operated by means of customer credit card authorisation only; there will be no cash sales."

"This method of forecourt operation is significantly more efficient than 'pay at kiosk' and 'drive to pay' stations with much reduced standing time on the forecourt, consequently accommodating higher throughput with minimal queuing. The station would have four dual-sided dispensers, on four islands set out in a 2 x 2 domino layout, with fuel hose delivery to both sides of the dispenser, providing eight filling positions."

To reduce the noise impact to local residents, Asda plans restricted opening hours of 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sundays. The planning application states that the facilities would see the removal of 31 parking spaces.

The proposals have been welcomed by many local motorists who hope that the extra competition will drive down fuel costs across Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge, where there is currently no supermarket petrol station.

Pictured: Above, the small car park at the entrance to the store where the petrol station is proposed, as highlighted in red on the map


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