Supermarkets fight to be top of the shops

tis  Waitrose exterior.  (140115Mb)
tis Waitrose exterior. (140115Mb)

Harrogate town centre is fast becoming a supermarket battlefield, with rival stores vying to be the best shop in town.

Just six months ahead of Marks and Spencer on Leeds Road’s estimated opening date, upmarket grocery rival Waitrose has announced a refurbishment of its Station Parade shop.

This comes hot on the heels of Sainburys £1.7m revamp of its Wetherby Road shop last October, which saw the installation of a new coffee shop and in-store dental practice.

And Morrisons hopes to open an M Local mini supermarket at the former Harrow Pub on Knaresborough Road.

Although Waitrose will not have a cafe, the store will be adding a welcome desk serving tea and coffee to loyalty card members, as well as improving its range of products.

Waitrose spokesman Anya Fisher said: “In March 2014, work will begin at Waitrose Harrogate to create new customer facilities and provide an even wider choice for local residents.”

Work at the store will start on January 26 and the shop is likely to close for around five days from Sunday March 16.

Meanwhile Morrisons PLC is expanding their M Local convenience schemes, with two sites earmarked in Harrogate.

Harrogate Borough Council’s licensing department have given the Bradford based supermarket a license to sell alcohol from the former HMV store on Cambridge Street in Harrogate town centre, which is expected to open as an M Local at the end of January.

Morrisons is also hoping to convert the former Harrow pub on Knaresborough Road into a convenience store and has applied for a licence to sell alcohol, and planning permission to install a new entrance.

Spokesperson Laura Stubbs said: “We are in discussions about bringing another store to the area and aim to open during the Spring.”

The Harrow Pub closed in March 2012 and has remained vacant since.

Plans for a KFC drive-thru at the site were refused in May 2013 after a public outcry.

Chief planner at Harrogate Borough Council, Gary Bell said in a report: “The conversion of The Harrow to a drive-thru restaurant will result in the intensification of use on the site arising from the short-term nature of customer turnover. The resulting increase in noise and disturbance from additional traffic is considered to result in a detrimental impact on the residential amenity of neighbouring properties.”

County Coun Richard Cooper (Con, Harrogate Central) said: “With two convenience stores nearby and a Tesco Express on the doorstep, it is difficult to see how another supermarket is justified.”

He added: “This is a better suggestion than the previous proposal for a drive-thru fast food restaurant but I think there will still be concerns about traffic, noise and litter.

“The application has yet to undergo the crucial test of public opinion. Residents can make their views known by contacting the council.”

Coun John Fox (Lib Dem, Harrogate Granby) and Coun Jennifer Taverna (Lib Dem, Granby) said: “We are pleased to see the former pub, The Harrow being brought back into use. The Harrow is a prominent building on the A59, the entrance to the town.

“Whilst we objected to the former proposal and supported the local residents’ opposition to the proposed KFC drive-through, the Morrisons Local will be a convenience store very similar to the Tesco Express in Starbeck.

“We have contacted Morrisons to discuss external lighting around the building due to its proximity to residential properties and local residents know of the proposal should they wish to comment.”