Published: July 3, 2013
Asda withdraws plans for new low-cost petrol station in Highbridge

Asda has withdrawn its controversial plans to build a new low-cost petrol station at its Highbridge store following a series of objections.

The scheme for an eight-pump petrol station to be sited in place of the small parking area at the entry to the Caxton Road store has drawn a number of complaints, as first reported here.

The supermarket giant has withdrawn the application amid concern about the safety of motorists leaving the proposed petrol station on a sharp bend - although Asda is now likely to make changes to the plans and resubmit a new application.

It follows an objection from Somerset County Council's Transport Development Group which raised concerns about the "unacceptable" restricted visibility for motorists leaving the planned petrol station.

Anna Griffiiths from the group says: "The application in its present form should be refused for failure to provide accetable visibility splays. However the applicant may wish to consider reversing the entrance and exit locations, which would be acceptable."

Ward councillor Chris Williams, who also expressed his concerns about safety for motorists leaving the site, told "I'm pleased the scheme has been withdrawn and hope that Asda has second thoughts about the layout."

"Traffic would have entered the petrol station by driving along part of the service road and then come out onto a tight, sharp bend which would have been dangerous."

Among the objections submitted to Sedgemoor District Council was a letter from an architectural consultancy service representing the owners of other local petrol stations. It highlighted the "economic impact of the proposal" on existing businesses in the town and claimed that with three stations already serving the town there "is no need from a public perspective for a further station as competition in the market already ensures low prices for the community."

At least eight letters were sent by the general public to the district council - six objections and two in support of the plans.

Asda said the station would have been unmanned most of the time, although it would have a 'forecourt greeter' 65 hours each week to help customers at busy 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 planned 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 had been welcomed by many local motorists who said they hoped the extra competition would drive down fuel costs across Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge, where there is currently no supermarket petrol station.

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