COUNCILLORS have given the green light to plans by Sainsbury’s to extend its Amblecote store to create a grocery online distribution hub.

The proposal, which was met by opposition from a group of residents, was approved by members of Dudley’s Development Control Committee at a meeting at Dudley Council House last night (Tuesday).

Amblecote councillor Paul Bradley, temporarily relinquished his vice-chairman’s position on the committee to speak against the proposal on behalf of residents who complained the development would lead to an increase in noise and traffic problems on the Withymoor Village estate.

He said: “My constituents already suffer 24-hour lorry deliveries, not to mention extra traffic that has been generated from the closure of the Sainsbury’s store at Merry Hill.

"They already suffer impossibly busy roads at weekends and holiday periods, and now they want to enlarge the store further with this application, adding even more noise and traffic to the area.”

Bruno Moore, head of town planning for Sainsbury’s, told the meeting: “It’s not a busy operation. It’s all done by hand and will be subject to a management plan and hours of operation.”

He said the extension would be at the back of the store and added: “It’s well screened. I’m well aware of the issues with our neighbours and we are looking at what we can do to mitigate the effect.”

A report to the committee said the single storey hub would help Sainsbury’s to meet existing customer demand for online delivery services and to ease pressure on existing facilities at other stores.

It said a number of trees would be removed and two-metre high acoustic fencing would be put in as part of the plan which would also include minor amendments to the locations of existing doors, a new door, a walkway for servicing and the loss of two customer parking spaces.

One of the residents, whose home is close to the store, however, said removal of the trees and bushes and the erection of the two-metre high fence “would be to the detriment of local residents as we all live higher in the amphitheatre of Sainsbury’s which echoes around the park at night and would remove the current pleasant views”.

He said the area had now become “Sainsbury’s town centre” and added that roads on the estate had not “been built for the volume of traffic seen since the closure of Sainsbury’s Merry Hill”.

He said: “Traffic has increased ten-fold and will only increase in time with the introduction of the click and collect Argos and online orders for home delivery.”

He said noise from the site had already increased “to the point we are unable to open our windows in the summer night or day with pallets and gates banging and lorry freezer units running non-stop”.

But councillors went along with the recommendation of planning officers and gave the go ahead for the extension after hearing the supermarket chain could still proceed with its proposed online delivery service as the operation itself does not require planning permission. The extension would simply make the new initiative easier.

Councillor John Martin said: “I understand the objections of residents but Sainsbury’s does make a valuable contribution to the local economy and I understand why Sainsbury’s has brought forward this application so it can remain competitive.”