Supermarkets 'would make Barnstaple home of the traffic jam again'
Two large supermarkets proposed in a North Devon town have been recommended for refusal by a council committee.
Devon County Council's development management committee believes plans for an Asda store at Anchor Wood Bank and a Morrisons supermarket in Braunton Road could have an adverse effect on Barnstaple town centre.
The committee was advised that both developments could cause severe congestion on surrounding roads.
Asda said it was very disappointed with the decision, which it says could jeopardise regeneration and employment opportunities.
Although the committee can only make recommendations to North Devon Council (NDC), the decision bolsters the case for refusing either application.
The final decision is due at a special NDC planning meeting on Wednesday, December 19.
The development management committee's recommendation has been welcomed by Barnstaple's two county councillors Brian Greenslade and Chris Haywood.
In a joint statement the pair said: "It is now five years on since the opening of the Western Bypass relieved Barnstaple of its status as "the home of the traffic jam".
"Two large supermarkets at the north and south end of the Taw Bridge will affect traffic flows across the whole highway network. We already see traffic stacking up at times of the day along Fairview, Braunton Road and on the Taw Bridge.
"To add to the current traffic volumes, to build further traffic signals into the network, will force traffic to build up on Rolle Street and Mermaid Cross, pushing Barnstaple back towards the congestion we used to experience prior to the opening of the Western Bypass.
"At this time of austerity the town centre is struggling anyway without further competition from more out of town shopping opportunities."
An Asda spokesman said: "All of the evidence we have provided to officers indicates that the proposed Anchorwood Bank development would not have a severe impact on the local road network – either in comparison with existing conditions or versus the planning permission that has already been granted on the site."
"Anchorwood Bank is an incredibly important site to the town and this decision could put this and any future regeneration proposal and the jobs and investment they will bring to Barnstaple in jeopardy.
Morrisons refused to comment on the decision.