Co-op walks away from South Kirkby scheme despite winning three-year battle that left residents furious

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The Co-op has stunned a local community by walking away from a site it spent three years trying to develop into a food store.

The supermarket chain finally got planning permission to convert an old medical clinic in South Kirkby in December 2020, after a tetchy and lengthy battle with objectors and Wakefield Council.

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Just 15 months on, however, the company has said it no longer has any interest in the scheme.

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An artist's impression of how the new Co-op store in South Kirkby would have looked.An artist's impression of how the new Co-op store in South Kirkby would have looked.
An artist's impression of how the new Co-op store in South Kirkby would have looked.

The Barnsley Road property has now been put up for sale at a guide price of £400,000 by its developer owner.

One long-standing critic of the Co-op’s original plans accused the business of “creating a hive of anti-social behaviour”, with the derelict building now fenced off after being targeted by vandals.

A spokesperson for Central England Co-op said: “We never owned this site but, previously, had been in talks to take on the lease for a new store subject to planning permission.

“However, we have since decided that will no longer pursing plans for a store at the site.”

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Asked specifically why the Co-op was walking away from the scheme, the spokesman said: “We have just decided not to move forward with our plans for a store in the area. I am afraid I have been given no further detail than that.”

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The Co-op’s first planning application to convert the site was knocked back in 2018 by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

It had appealed to the Inspectorate over the way Wakefield Council had handled the case, after local councillors and residents raised road safety concerns.

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The supermarket soured relations further by demanding Wakefield taxpayers to cover their legal bills for the case, though this too was rejected.

Amended plans were put forward the following year and later approved.

South Elmsall and South Kirkby councillor Michelle Collins said: “The Co-op rode roughshod over our community and everyone that objected to their plans, going full steam ahead at any cost.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that they have left the building in the state it is in, creating a hive of anti-social behaviour.

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“It seems the Co-op’s message that they wanted to be a part of our community is only true when they can make a profit on us.”

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