Sir: What is happening in our countryside is comparable to the appalling wrecking sprees by 1960s ‘expert planners’ (‘Proposed Sainsbury’s in Newport is called in”, 18 August). In Newport, a small market town built on reclaimed marshes and centuries of agriculture now faces a fight for survival - many such have lost.
In 2010, after Telford & Wrekin Unitary Council refused planning permission to an out-of-town supermarket, the decision was upheld at appeal by the inspector who stated what the town needed: a low-cost, in-town supermarket built on brownfield land.
In 2011, however, plans were submitted for a Sainsbury’s on council-owned greenfield. The site, loved by locals and the subject of a Village/Town Green application (naturally opposed by the council) would equal half the town’s entire retail floorspace and be the largest in the Midlands.
It is inconceivable the council would have given approval if they didn’t own the land - but despite opposition, they approved it. Eric Pickles has, however, called in the plans - the enquiry starts in January.
One understands a cash-strapped council desperate to capitalise on assets, but it’s sad that it can’t envisage anything other than a supermarket.
Retail is changing. Amazon is now the world’s biggest retailer yet doesn’t have a single store. Acres of countryside might be concreted over for short-term gain, when the long game is about to change for retail. This could result in an ugly shed in a field, unwanted and unused - a 21st-century folly.