Waitrose rebuffed – thanks to a whipround

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For most areas of the country, the arrival of a Waitrose on their doorstep is a welcome sign of affluence. After all, the chain is the official food supplier to the Royal Family and has been shown to push up house prices in the towns and villages it moves into.

But for the well-heeled residents of Hale Barns in Cheshire, who count Premiership footballers and glamorous television actresses among their number, it was regarded as an unwanted intrusion that they intended to oppose. Houses in the area sell for upwards of £1m.

In an indication of the community's collective financial clout, a swift whip-round among villagers to raise funds to counter the proposals raised almost £30,000. It was deemed money well spent when officials this week threw out the plans after a two-year campaign by residents.

Speaking after Trafford Council's planning committee rejected the application, the Rev Robert Hinton, 38, vicar of the local All Saints Church, declared the decision "a great victory for common sense and for villages across the country".

The row broke out in 2006 when the developer, Citybranch, announced that it wanted to demolish the current village shopping centre, known as The Square, and replace it with a modern development block, which would have included a row of 14 new shops, a 287-space underground car park and 51 apartments, as well as a 3,050 sq m Waitrose store.

The residents of Hale Barns – home to the former Manchester United player Roy Keane, now manager of Sunderland, the Newcastle footballer Nicky Butt, the Liverpool player Harry Kewell and his wife Sheree Murphy, the actress, and Betty Driver, of Coronation Street fame – said the village wasn't big enough to support such a development and they were anxious that it would put local shops out of businesses.

Determined to call a halt to the proposals, they launched a campaign to have the plans thrown out. More than 700 residents from the 600-household village held campaign rallies at a local grammar school and church to oppose the plans and a fundraising eventthat saw some families donating upwards of £1,000 to help the cause.

Mr Hinton explained: "People in the village were furious. How many big supermarkets do we need? People were angry because what they see is a developer maximising profit at the expense of the community. Life in the village would have changed dramatically."

They appeared to have won the day in July 2006 when a Trafford Council planning committee rejected the plans after receiving more than 700 objections and being greeted by 100 protesters waving banners and placards outside the town hall.

But Citybranch appealed and the matter was then referred to a public inquiry.

Now, however, it appears the matter has finally been resolved after the planning inspector Martin Pike threw out the plans saying: "The proposal is too large for the catchment."

Mr Hinton welcomed the decision. He said: "From the very start, residents have said parts of the village square need a facelift. But we don't want something that will overwhelm our community.

"It would have brought traffic misery and disrupted community life. It 's not a case of 'not in my back yard', it's a case of 'my back yard isn't big enough'."

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