Two springs have passed now since campaigners opposed to the siting of a Tesco Superstore on Westover’s Brewery field marked out the projected size of the store with lines of daffodils in the hope that in future the flowers would remain and Tesco would up sticks elsewhere. Nothing has happened since then despite Tory run Sedgemoor District Council falling over itself to encourage the Multi-National Tescopolists to hurry on their way to concrete over this last bit of Town Centre greenery.
But now it seems Tesco might be doing exactly what Sedgemoor doesn’t want and scrapping plans for future expansion. Westover Councillor Brian Smedley, who campaigned against the store, has issued a warning that Tesco look set to pull out following the recent announcement by Tesco’s Chief Executive that the company were scrapping plans to develop a range of new Tesco Extra’s.
Cllr Smedley said “The long unexplained delay in progressing the Bridgwater Development is now beginning to make sense. The Development Management Committee resolved to grant consent for the proposed 60,000ft2 Tesco Extra in September last year yet 8 months later we appear no closer to the development actually starting. The Labour Group have been pressing the Council’s Leadership for an update on this development and for any comment on the rumours of this cancellation for sometime but have been met by a wall of silence. The latest national announcement from Tesco’s appears to be the final nail in the coffin for this development.”
The ‘End of New Big Stores’
Tesco CEO Phillip Clarke, in announcing a change in their direction, has coined a new phrase – “New Tesco” – to sum up his effort to change the company’s focus away from huge stores and on to smaller shops that are more focused on the particular needs of a local community. He said Tesco would open 12 big stores in the coming year, but no more of the huge Tesco Extras. “It is,” he said, “the end of new big stores.”
Cllr Smedley said “ I have strongly suggested that the Sedgemoor Corporate Director responsible starts urgently working up a Plan B, but this time looking at a type of development that will compliment and not compete with the town centre and preserve the integrity of the Brewery Field”
Sedgemoor Labour Group and Labour controlled Bridgwater Town Council have opposed this development since it’s conception taking the commonly held view around the town that Bridgwater was already well served by supermarkets and a leisure led development would be much more appropriate for this site.
Not another supermarket…
Cllr Smedley said “The Town is growing at a frenetic pace and needs developments that are going to entice people into the town centre not yet another supermarket.”
A Sedgemoor spokesperson said “We are awaiting the response of Tesco to the final draft 106 Agreement sent a couple of weeks ago . As to what a Plan B would be if Tesco were not to proceed, the starting point would be that the site is shown in the core strategy for town centre expansion with a resolution to grant/consent issued for a retail development. It would clearly be a major matter to carefully consider, such is the importance of this site to the town centre and Bridgwater.“
Meanwhile the daffodils continue to grow peacefully on the Brewery Field and anyone wishing to see the exact footprint of the store can take a walk down there and frolic amongst them….while there’s still time.