Legal challenge quashed on Eastrea but Harrier confirm new store for Tesco will revert to Station Road site and open in 2015

PUBLISHED: 15:31 24 July 2014

Tesco plans for a store in Whittlesey. The Station Road site

Tesco plans for a store in Whittlesey. The Station Road site

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Tesco could yet beat Sainsbury’s to opening a new store in Whittlesey following a surprise announcement today.

Tesco plans for a store in Whittlesey. The Station Road site. Tesco plans for a store in Whittlesey. The Station Road site.

Days after Harrier lost their final legal challenge on a site in Eastrea Road, the company said it would be full steam ahead on the Station Road site they do have permission to build on.

Liz Dent, Harrier’s spokesman, said: “All we wish to say is that naturally we are disappointed with the dismissal of the judicial review.”

But she added Harrier was “programmed to start construction on Station Road in the last quarter of this year, so Whittlesey we will getting a new food store in spring next year.”

Her robust statement comes after a two year battle with rival Fens developer Whitacre which eventually won permission for a supermarket, country park and business/retail centre next to the Harrier site in Eastrea Road.

Tesco plans for a store in Whittlesey. The Station Road site. Tesco plans for a store in Whittlesey. The Station Road site.

Harrier, led by Richard Sears, has always maintained that Eastrea was his first choice but that Tesco would still go ahead on the Station Road side if all else failed.

Two years ago Louise Gosling from Tesco’s corporate affairs department took me on a whistle stop tour of Whittlesey to emphasise their commitment to the town.

As Fenland Council’s planning committee prepared to debate rival bids for Eastrea, Ms Gosling was in no mood to contemplate anything other than victory.

“Tesco has spent many years trying to find a site for a new supermarket in Whittlesey and we are committed to finding the best option,” she said.

“We already have permission to build on Station Road and while this option will work we would like to make sure that the supermarket we build is in the best possible place to serve the people of Whittlesey.”

Previously Tesco had ditched a town centre proposal before opting first for Station Road and then submitted alternative proposals on a site in Eastrea Road near to where Sainsbury was pitching for its store.

Two years ago Ms Gosling said Fenland Council’s independent retail advisers said the town could only support one supermarket and predicted a legal nightmare if Sainsbury was to gain permission for Eastrea Road and their application refused.

“Tesco is coming,” said Ms Gosling at the time. “Over a thousand people have told us they like the plans and they can’t wait to have somewhere local to do their weekly shop.”

Work is now well underway for a Tesco store in Chatteris – both schemes were submitted by Harrier at around the same time.

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