Rough sleepers should occupy Sainbury’s site

Sainsbury's old building
Sainsbury's old building

Desperate homeless people could live well for less by sleeping in the disused Sainsbury’s store at thecentre:mk this winter.

An online petition is urging the supermarket giant to emulate footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs by giving their unwanted space to people in need.

Already Milton Keynes council leader Pete Marland has hailed the petition “a good idea” and arranged to meet with Sainsbury bosses to discuss it.

The Food Centre store has stood empty for five years, ever since the Sainsbury’s moved a few hundred metres down the road to a larger store at The Hub.

But they have always refused to relinquish the lease on the building for fear a competitor may move in.

The online petition on the 38 Degrees site gathered 500 signatures in the first few days.

It urges Sainsbury to allow homeless people to occupy the building, saying it is “inhumane” to allow them to sleep rough in cold weather.

Mr Marland told the Citizen: “Any use of the building that would help the community, and particularly the homeless, would be a good thing.”

He is due to meet Sainsbury chiefs next week to discuss the future of the empty store – which is one of three unused sites the company holds in MK.

The first is the former convenience shop next to the new Sainsbury’s at the former Dolphin splashdown at Shenley Church End. The second redundant site is near Stantonbury Campus, where the company promised to build a new store seven years ago.

“Sainsbury’s are holding onto three sites in Milton Keynes. This is not good enough and we need to find solutions,” said Mr Marland.

Meanwhile the former Food Centre building, which was vacated by Waitrose two years ago, is falling into disrepair and in danger of becoming an “eyesore” on the city centre landscape, he said.

Sainsbury’s property department press office was asked for a response to the homeless suggestion. They did not respond.