Independent traders in Bedfordshire are claiming a minor victory after Morrisons slowed down its march on Houghton Regis.
Morrisons had applied for planning permission to build a petrol station with forecourt store opposite an existing filling station and adjacent to its new 50,000sq ft superstore which is due to open next month. But following pressure from local retailers Morrisons has withdrawn the petrol station application.
Nisa Local retailer Kishor Patel, who orchestrated the campaign, said the proposed filling station would have killed off the Nisa service station opposite. He wrote to local MP Andrew Sealous, the local council and media, to outline his opposition to the plans.
“This is just another example of the supermarkets’ march on to roll over small businesses. The application completely disregards what Houghton Regis needs and totally disregards small businesses,” he wrote.
Morrisons has been operating a temporary supermarket on the site since last year after buying it from Netto. “Since their arrival in August 2011 our footfall is down, and we are predicting a 20% drop in sales with the opening of the superstore in a few weeks,” Kishor said.
At a council meeting prior to Morrisions withdrawing the application, the vast majority of attendees were opposed to the plan, Kishor said. “It shows what a bit of campaigning can achieve.”