Waitrose in secret talks

12:18 26 February 2013

A view of the Exmouth bus station. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 8513-08-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

A view of the Exmouth bus station. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 8513-08-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Archant

Supermarket giant Waitrose is in secret talks with the county council about acquiring its bus depot for a new store.

But if the plans go ahead, it could sink East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) masterplan and its hopes of regenerating Exmouth.

The district council has already earmarked the nearby rugby ground, which it owns, for sale to a superstore, with the funds going towards the town’s facelift.

The Journal has learned agents acting for Waitrose are negotiating with the county’s property representatives NPS - and preliminary proposals could be filed within a month.

A county council spokesman confirmed that NPS ‘had been approached by a development company, regarding the future of the land if Stagecoach were to vacate’.

A Waitrose spokesman said: “We’re often linked to potential sites and, although we have no plans at this moment in time, we are keen to increase our presence in the South West and in Exmouth.”

Meanwhile, district chiefs are hoping to start a supermarket tendering process for a ‘preferred bidder’ for the rugby ground by early next year. The rugby club would move to the Rolle Playing Fields as part of the deal.

The district council said this week the Exmouth Masterplan was ‘not primarily concerned’ with where best to put a food store - but how best to regenerate Exmouth town centre.

In response to the interest from Waitrose, a district council spokesman said: “Interest is shown in sites all the time and applications are regularly put forward.

“But if it was pursued (the Waitrose plans), it would be hard to see how this would deliver the regeneration ambitions for Exmouth as approved by the town, district and county councils.”

The rugby ground is categorised by the Environment Agency (EA) as being at a ‘high risk’ of flooding.

Before EDDC can ‘promote’ the ground for a food store, the Environment Agency says a vital two-stage flood test must be carried out.

The first would determine if any lower risk sites are available nearby – and district chiefs say this will begin within a month.

If lesser-risk sites are not available to the district council, a second ‘exception test’ judged by environment chiefs would be needed.

The bus depot is on higher ground and at less of a risk of flooding – The Journal understands that Waitrose would not want to develop the rugby ground because of the high cost of new flood defences.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “They (EDDC) would have to demonstrate that the economic benefits outweighed the flood risks and that the area (rugby ground) was safe.”

The spokesman said if the test failed, the the district council could choose to ignore the Environment Agency’s recommendations.

“But if it went to judicial review, they (EDDC) would be on the back foot,” he said.

1 comment

Other News Stories

Yesterday, 19:52

Company says the cabinet is in ‘satisfactory’ location and complies with all necessary regulations

Read more
Yesterday, 18:30

Beer’s annual bake-off hit its ‘highest standards’ yet, with more entries than ever before. Competitors were tasked with baking a creation that represented the village, stood at least two tiers tall and featured a decorative seagull.

Read more
Yesterday, 17:39

Ricky Gervais has pledged to donate gig profits to animal charity Nowzad, which was founded in Exmouth,

Read more
Yesterday, 17:00

A man hanged himself six hours after his lover killed herself in the same way at the same house.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:03

Ilfracombe Town Council has kept its portion of the council tax to 1.6 per cent for 2017-18

Read more
Yesterday, 16:03

Top accolade for The Olive Room in Fore Street and chef Thomas Carr

Read more
Yesterday, 15:00

Honiton Town Council has said it will be issuing a statement about the recent judicial review in due course.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:35

Improvement work will form part of £35,000 cyclepath to link Sidbury and Sidmouth

Read more
Yesterday, 14:01

Police were called to a two vehicle road traffic collision near Branscombe following reports of an overturned van.

Read more
Yesterday, 13:31

Man slashed across face during attempted knife point robbery in Ilfracombe said police response ‘was amazing’

Read more

Local Weather

Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 5°C

min temp: 1°C

Most Read News

Place a family notice

Family Notices 24

Newsletter Sign Up

Find a job in Devon



Local business directory

Devon's trusted business finder

FFind planning applications