ASDA is locking horns with Hillingdon Council over its plans for a superstore in Hayes.
Next week, at a public inquiry, the company will challenge the borough’s refusal to allow a supermarket at the Westlands 3 site in Millington Road.
The hearing starts on Tuesday and is scheduled to run for four days.
A planning inspector will hear evidence from Asda and the landowner, the British Steel Pension Fund (BSPF), the borough, and other interested parties before deciding if the refusal should be overturned.
Asda’s ambitious proposals were first announced in January 2011. The council rejected a planning application for the supermarket and warehouse unit in November, saying the site was ‘strategically important’ as designated industrial land and should be retained for warehousing.
BSPF believed this ruling to be flawed and appealed in May. It says it has since received backing from all corners of the community.
“The local community has shown that it wants our development to happen,” said a BSPF spokesman. “This support will leave the inspector in no doubt as to what the community wants.
The prospect of an Asda store in Hayes has been greeted with optimism and caution in equal measure.
The promise of 500 jobs, plus money for environmental enhancements, has got many people excited.
But critics say the store, far from regenerating the area, would take trade away from shops in the nearby town centre.
The chairman of Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce, Mike Langan, believes the cons outweigh the pros.
“We like to see investment in town centres, but we consider this an out-of-town development that will destroy the centre.
“The same thing happened with Sainsbury’s in Hayes, when it moved from Pump Lane to Uxbridge Road, and took a lot of the footfall and trade.
“We want to see our traditional high streets surviving, but at the moment they are struggling for business.
“A lot of jobs are being promised, but I don’t think there will be that many full-time workers at all, not nearly as many as when the site was home to Fairey Aviation years ago.”
Uxbridge College has voiced its support. Its executive director of enterprise and development, Lorraine Collins, said: “For us, it is really about employment, work experience and training.
“Asda will be recruiting local people into local jobs, in an area where there are high levels of unemployment.
“It will provide training opportunities and apprenticeships, work placements, and part-time roles which can fit around people’s circumstances.”
n Would you welcome an Asda superstore in Hayes, or would it be the final nail in the coffin for the town? Do you think it will help or hinder regeneration in the town? Email email@example.com with your views.