In March 2012, I went public with the news that Sainsbury’s Supermarkets had secured an option to buy land at the former Mondi Paper Mill site on Bridge Street, Ramsbottom to develop a 40,000 sq foot foodstore with a 250 space car park – over twice the size of the current Aldi Supermarket site.
The Mondi Paper Mill site has been empty for the last 4 years and has been demolished. The remaining buildings on the site are protected and it is zoned for industrial use only.
I opposed the proposal as Ramsbottom already has three supermarkets in the town centre all within a few hundred yards of each other.
A number of traders and residents joined me in preparing petitions and leafleting the town and I have to thank them for the hard work they put in.
Following discussions today with Sainsbury’s Supermarket’s, they have given me the following statement:-
“We can confirm that Sainsbury’s is not progressing that site or indeed any other site in Ramsbottom.”
Ramsbottom is a small town, with just 11,000 residents. Ramsbottom already has excellent food and drink shops, butchers, bakers and delicatessens. We have a wealth of small independent shops. There is also a traditional weekly market, a monthly farmers’ (artisan) market and non-food outlets.
Most of these businesses would have been ruined by the arrival of a fourth supermarket, with irreversible damage to the character of our special market town.
Bury Council and the Ramsbottom traders have spent a considerable amount of time and effort promoting Ramsbottom as a tourist destination. To have a large supermarket next to a heritage steam railway station did not make any sense whatsoever.
In addition, the traffic on Bridge Street is already extremely heavy as it is the main route into Ramsbottom. The Mondi Paper Mill site is at a busy junction. Ramsbottom just could not cope with extra lorries and traffic generated by yet another supermarket. Access would have been a major problem.
There are also issues regarding flood and contamination at the site. It is also an important heritage site and is within Ramsbottom Conservation Area.
Whilst everyone in the town wants the site to be redeveloped and for jobs to be created in Ramsbottom, any development at that site has to be sympathetic to the aspirations of the town to be a premier tourist destination.
We will wait to see what the plans are for the site. I will urge the new owners to consult with local residents and businesses as soon as possible.
I will update you as soon as I have some more news.