Jesmond’s New Sainsbury’s Local: What We Know So Far
The site of the new construction is on Lyndhurst Avenue, on the spot the Jesmond Picture House used to occupy. The old cinema was demolished in 2009 after standing derelict since 1993. The plot, over the road from West Jesmond Metro station, is currently unused.
Sainsbury’s will be well known to readers and a spokesman told JesmondLocal that “we’ve been interested in opening a convenience store on the site of the old Jesmond Picture House for some time and are working closely with the Council to finalise our plans”. The design of the new building is being spearheaded by local architecture firm Studio SP, who have been heavily involved with the regeneration of other notable locations around the city (including a major redevelopment on City Road on the Quayside).
Sainbury’s Local is the retailer’s branch of mid-sized convenience stores, comparable to the nearby Tesco Metro in size and range of goods and services. Plans have been approved for a four storey building, comfortably taller than its neighbour, The Lonsdale. As well as the Sainsbury’s Local, the building will house a basement, a restaurant and office space.
Gavin Lowden, Project Manager at Studio SP, explained that the idea behind the design was that “you can preserve the past and still push forward.” The design, which resembles the old picture house in shape, represents an attempt to enforce a sense of “continuity” by utilising a “classic art-deco” style.
Clearly, Sainsbury’s feel that there is potential to attract customers, despite the obvious competition from the nearby Tesco Metro on Acorn Road and mid-sized Waitrose on Osborne Road, all within five minutes walk of each other.
Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme shortly after the company announced a sizable drop in sales figures, warned that “trends are changing rapidly” amongst shoppers with people increasingly preferring to do “a little and often shopping.” The preponderance of smaller branches in Jesmond, rather than large, out-of-town megastores, reflects this shift in consumer behaviour.
Both Sainbury’s and Studio SP made the pragmatic argument for the development. A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told JesmondLocal that “we have a strong track record of employing local people and our store will provide much-needed jobs for members of the local community.” Similarly, Lowden said that “regeneration encourages investment and kickstarts other parts of the economy. You have to make sure that it isn’t just a beautiful building. It has to work for the area.”
The store will have permission to open between 7am and 11pm and deliveries will be permitted between 8am and 6pm (except Sundays). However, we still don’t know when the new business will actually open its doors. Plans were originally submitted in 2012 and there has been a flurry of activity over the past few months, with developers seemingly eager to kickstart construction but a concrete opening date remains elusive. However, Gavin Lowden at Studio SP revealed that whilst there are still a number of conditions that must be met before construction can commence, they expect it to be completed sometime around Summer/Autumn 2015.
According to planning documents, these conditions include providing parking spaces for cyclists and meeting a number of environmental standards. Furthermore, nearby residents will be heartened by the news that before the restaurant can open its doors developers must put in place “a scheme for the extraction of cooking fumes and odours”.
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