HUNDREDS of jobs in Burton have potentially been saved after a retail giant announced it had no plans to pull the plug on the town.
Doubts had been cast over the future of the B&Q depot in Burton Road, Branston, after planning permission was requested to demolish part of the site to make way for more than 500 new houses.
Alarmed at the potential job losses that would be caused by the DIY firm’s withdrawal from the town, Burton MP Andrew Griffiths wrote to B&Q divisional chief executive Kevin O’Byrne.
In his reply, seen by the Mail, Mr O’Byrne said: “We have been an employer of between 400 and 600 people at the Branston site for almost 10 years now and, wherever possible, would want to remain there or in the local vicinity, given the skill base we have developed over the years.”
Landlords Bedell Corporate Trustees Limited and Atrium Trustees Limited wrote to East Staffordshire Borough Council in August asking for permission to bulldoze part of the site and build 510 houses and retail units.
The proposals, if approved by planners, would force B&Q to leave the site and relocate.
Tory MP Mr Griffiths said in his letter: “B&Q is hugely important to Burton and is a major employer in the town. I am keen to support local businesses and the last thing I want is for a major employer to leave.”
Mr O’Byrne’s reply said the DIY giant, which has 330 stores in the UK and Ireland, had ‘not instigated and was not involved in’ the plans to turn the site into houses.
Mr Griffiths told the Mail after receiving his reply: “I am encouraged B&Q want to remain in the town to continue to employ such a huge number of people.
“There is clearly a commitment from B&Q to the Burton area and the Burton workforce. My main priority is protecting jobs and bringing new ones to the area.
“I decided to write to B&Q offering any help and assistance I could give them in finding new premises should they be leaving their current site.”
The proposals have caused concern for Branston Parish Council, which claimed the current infrastructure would not be able to cope with a further 500 houses.
Parish councillors also said so many new homes, on top of other proposed developments in Branston, risked ‘destroying the community spirit’.
The news of B&Q’s commitment to Burton comes just days after brewing giant Molson Coors confirmed its UK head office would remain in Station Street, despite the formation of a European brewing conglomerate based in the Czech Republic.