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

16:32
Staff at Caen Medical Centre in Braunton celebrate receiving a rating for outstanding

Inspectors full of praise for local GP surgery and how it works with the community

Read more
16:30
The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team (l to r) Left to right: Dr Sam Rose, Alex O’Dwyer, Sally King, Dr Anjana Ford, Caroline Pearce, Guy Kerr, Katie Thompson, Sam Scriven, Lesley Garlick

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team has won national recognition for its efforts to involve others with the site.

Read more
15:49
A tent and pizza boxes were among the litter found at Core Hill

This ‘mindless and shameful’ littering shocked a mum-of-three trying to enjoy the outdoors with her children.

Read more
car driving fast into forest.

Around 25,000 people are expected to attend the music festival, taking place this weekend.

Read more
Gillian Hipkins receiving her award from County Council chairman councillor Andrew Moulding

A Lympstone woman has been named Devon’s community transport enabler of the year at an awards ceremony.

Read more
13:50
The new riverside walkway has opened at Anchorwood Bank in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble

Members of walking group take a stroll with dignitaries as footpath opens

Read more

A drug user has been jailed after he agreed to stash almost 1,000 ecstasy tablets for a dealer.

Read more
Alan Rowe and Ernest on the Gibraltar Rock Run.

Alan Rowe MBE and his wife, Pauline, made the week-long trip last month.

Read more
12:30
Mike Aitken passed away aged 81.

Bideford Bridge Rotary Club members form guard of honour at funeral of staunch supporter Mike Aitken.

Read more
12:30
New Mayor of Exmouth Brian Cole (right) with new deputy mayor Jeff Trail.

Councillor Brian Cole has been named as the new Mayor of Exmouth.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 11°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

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