Sainsbury's supermarket decision in Cheddar divides village
A divisive battle to build the first supermarket in one of the West’s most popular villages ended yesterday in favour of Sainsbury’s.
Hundreds of residents had fought against the plan, but one person who the decision to approve plans will be particularly popular with is the farmer who owns the land where it will be built.
David Thorner worked for his second cousin, Peter Thorner, Steart Farm’s previous owner, for 30 years without being paid a single penny on the understanding that he would take over the enterprise when the older man died.
But Peter left no will and it took a legal battle ending in the House of Lords to sort out the inheritance.
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In 2009 the Lords ruled that Mr Thorner should inherit the £2.3 million farm, while Peter Thorner’s sisters and niece were to share £750,000.
But some of the farm buildings were run down and little-used. The Sainsbury’s deal will allow Mr Thorner to concentrate on rearing a top quality beef herd.
But the ‘Keep Cheddar Special’ action group said it was dismayed by the decision.
It said it will now redouble its efforts against another proposal, from Tesco, to build on the village football ground.
The question of whether a superstore would damage independent shops, cause traffic chaos and degrade individuality and put off tourists split the ancient Somerset community. Some argued that trade was lost to Wells and Weston-Super-Mare because locals have to travel to find a superstore.
Approving the plan Sedgemoor District Council development committee said major road improvements are needed. It will also lead to the demolition of a cottage, while one family will find themselves living opposite the roundabout.
Tony Watts, chairman of the South West Forum on Ageing, and Cheddar resident said: “Our own parish councillors voted against this. The overwhelming majority of people in Cheddar who expressed an opinion were against this. So how on Earth, in a democratic society, can our town two local councillors – Dawn Hill and Peter Downing – provide the critical two votes that saw this application approved?
“The sad fact is, that the council officers and members were probably frightened by the prospect of a costly appeal from Sainbury’s and chickened out of making a decision in the interests of local people.”
The Tesco plan would lead to a new football ground for the local club, which is urging the public to support it. No date has yet been set to decide the Tesco scheme.