AN adult shop on the former Little Chef site on Toll Bar Way, Sawtry, would fundamentally change the character of the village and serve to undermine our children’s upbringing while offering no benefit to the village whatsoever.
AN adult shop on the former Little Chef site on Toll Bar Way, Sawtry, would fundamentally change the character of the village and serve to undermine our children's upbringing while offering no benefit to the village whatsoever.
I moved to Sawtry just under six years ago with my girlfriend at the time and we married two years later. One of the major reasons for moving to the village was that it has the amenities of a small town (schools, leisure facilities etc) and yet it remains very village-like in its community feel. This was especially important to us as we felt, and still feel, that it is an excellent environment to raise a family.
Last year, we were fortunate enough to have a baby boy, Sebastian, who has just had his first birthday. Over the past year my wife, Nikki, has made full use of the children's activities the village has to offer; from mother and baby groups to sign language classes and swimming lessons.
These only reaffirm the level of commitment to and importance of children in the village and how out of character an establishment such as the one proposed is.
These activities survive because of the support from families not only within the village but also from the surrounding villages.
We are fortunate in that we can walk to the children's centre without passing the proposed site. However families coming from outside the village would have to choose between passing a sex-shop to use Sawtry's facilities and going elsewhere, such as Huntingdon. This may well cause amenities in the village to become unsustainable and an imbalance in usage across the district.
We strongly believe that the site in question is wholly unsuitable for its proposed use due to its proximity to the village of Sawtry. It is only a 10-minute walk from Sawtry Community College - a school with approximately 1,500 pupils and excellent GCSE and A-Level results for 2010 (second in the area behind only Kimbolton School). Not to mention the junior school and playgroups.
Residential areas of the village are the closest at it is clearly visible from these.
The site spans two major entrances to the village, the first being the A1(M) and its associated Sawtry junction slip road. It is this that is the appeal of the site to Cocktails Ltd. The fact that customers can visit their Grantham (A1 southbound) shop in relative anonymity is actively marketed as a plus-point on their website.
However, the second thoroughfare adjacent to the site is Toll Bar Way itself. This is part of the main bus route between Huntingdon and Peterborough, including school buses from the surrounding villages.
Toll Bar Way is also a popular thoroughfare for recreational purposes used by many joggers, cyclists and dog walkers as well as families following the local nature trail. This is quite contrary to Cocktails Ltd's claims that "it is on a non-pedestrian road".
I believe strongly in our free market economy and embrace the principles of supply and demand. However, I do not believe that, if somebody wants an adult item, of such a nature that it cannot be purchased over the internet, they would not be prepared to travel to a more appropriate location such as existing shops in Peterborough.
These items are not impulse-buy products and so there will always be a planned journey to a shop. Therefore, that shop's location can be anywhere - an industrial unit would be more appropriate, for example.
This site is not like Cocktails Ltd's Grantham site, nor is like the Adult Pit Stop site on the A1 between Tempsford and Sandy which are both direct exits from main road. There are no immediate residents surrounding either establishment and there are no impressionable children regularly within 10 minutes' walk.
The site has stood vacant for a number of years, as has the adjacent plot (the former Travelodge). I can only assume that it has been difficult to sell/let these plots. If this licence is approved it is likely to be a major disincentive to any potentially beneficial business looking to occupy the neighbouring premise. It would act as a green light to a business similarly inappropriate in nature.
Raising a child is difficult enough these days, as we have only just started to find out, but the potential of undermining a father's hopes and confirming a mother's fears is something that need not happen. A shop of this nature in this location is inappropriate and will change the character of the village.