Tesco in race against time to open new Wisbech store - and want a little help from the council to achieve deadline date

Some of the stores that will be on the Tesco new site and store in Wisbech Some of the stores that will be on the Tesco new site and store in Wisbech

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
8:20 AM

Tesco is in a race against time to open a multi million pound 60,000 sq ft superstore in Wisbech on February 13 – and has made an urgent bid to Fenland Council to help them achieve it.

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Welcome to tesco signWelcome to tesco sign

The company has warned that unless they open on that date their investment strategy for the year could be threatened but more importantly retailers lined up to take units in their old store at Sandown Road could walk away from their commitments.

Work is well ahead on the Cromwell Road site (formerly Wisbech Greyhound stadium) and completion of the overall scheme could bring up to 500 jobs, with Tesco alone providing half of that number. It will also provide up to £600,000 in community benefits.

Tesco’s agent, Contour Planning, has asked the council to amend its original application to allow a six screen cinema and restaurant complex to open two months later and not in advance as agreed.

Justin Mills, a director of Contour, said the re phasing of the scheme reflects the “significant pressure – including legal obligations” which Tesco is under to open its new food store as quickly as possible.

Tesco Wisbech under construction.Tesco Wisbech under construction.

He said: “Tesco’s funding for developing the new store- and adjoining uses - is fixed to its financial year 2013/14, which expires on February 28. Consequently for Tesco to be able to recover its substantial financial investment the company needs to immediately commence trading. On this basis the store opening has been fixed, with Tesco and its contractors working to an opening date of February 13.”

Mr Mills explained that Tesco’s legal obligations relate to contracts signed by third party outlets that are committed to taking units in the retail park development taking place on the site of the existing Tesco store at Sandown Road.

“If the food store’s practical completion date is missed then the retailers signed up for the retail park – which includes a range of high quality retailers who will help retain trade in Wisbech, preventing leakage to other centres such as Kings Lynn and Peterborough, will be able to talk away form their previous commitment to taking units at Sandown Road,” said Mr Mills.

“It is therefore in both Tesco’s and the council’s interest to ensure that the contracts with the committed retailers are complied with, ensuring that the operators come to Wisbech.”

Mr Mills said: “Tesco is financially and legally committed to opening the store in February and is looking for the council’s support to achieve this timescale.”

Planners are now looking at their request which will mean the Light Cinema will open two months later, in April.

Mr Mills explained that the cinema’s opening needs would coincide with a peak holiday season (Easter) and thereby ensure that the greatest number of potential cinema goers is available at the time of its opening.

He said if the cinema opened before the food store then its trade would be “detrimentally affected by unusual shopping patterns associated with the food store’s first few weeks of trading”.

Mr Mills was emphatic that the revision would not affect the cinema’s opening or their commitment to Wisbech which had been extensively advertised as being part of their financial planning for the current year.

There are two separate sites for re-development: the former stadium in Cromwell Road will house a Tesco Extra together with a multiplex cinema and restaurants.

Once work is complete Tesco will demolish its existing store and replace it with a new retail park.

Fenland Council will receive up to £600,000 in section 106 (community benefit) payments from Tesco.

It includes £40,000 for a new traffic signal system along Cromwell Road, £100,000 to create a master plan for the town’s growth, and £90,000 towards funding schemes resulting from the master plan.

Wisbech Town Council will receive £50,000 for tidal clocks, bus shelters, cycle ways and touch screen information points.

And there will be a two phase payment of £350,000 to provide community transport to the new Cromwell Road store.

13 comments

  • Sometimes the comments on this website baffle me. Tesco are bringing up to 500 jobs, massive new infrastructure and amenities, and will be giving hundreds of thousands of pounds to the town at the same time. And all they are asking is for the opening date to move by two months to help them out in the opening of the largest new retail development the town has seen in decades. And the response, on here, is "No! Let's get tough with them." Unbelievable. In my opinion, let them have their two months extra time. Who is it going to hurt?

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    Steve Tierney

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • I suppose that this will be yet another Council to succumb to blackmail by Tesco. If that company agreed certain conditions, which are now too be broken because apparently it can't do what it set out to in time, then it has only itself to blame.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • ahh poor Tesco

    Report this comment

    ggj666

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • And the claim that Tesco is bringing half of the 500 new jobs - is this really in addition to those already employed at the existing store?

    Report this comment

    Josie Ratcliffe

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

  • So going by the sign picture, does Tesco actually think it is the capital of the fens then?

    Report this comment

    ggj666

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • Steve Tierneys comments are again a great example of how a councilor or in this case a failed Councilor condemns his constituents comments rather than listens to them!! maybe if you used your ears and didn't walk around with a self righteous attitude people might take you for more than a clown. To many councilors have been abusing their positions for to long, they have absolutely no interest in the best for their local communities,

    Report this comment

    Clarkson Cross

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

  • .....and I'm sure Sports World are also no longer trading. What are the other big name retailers for this site..... Woolworths, Do-It-All, MFI, JJB Sports....?

    Report this comment

    Citizen of EUSSR

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • Furthermore both Comet and Sportworld went bust long ago.

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    Fenland Engineer

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • 99 percent of these jobs will be part-time, less than 16 hours per week. Most will be zero hour contacts.

    Report this comment

    Fenland Engineer

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • EDP: "Some of the stores that will be on the new Tesco site". I thought Comet went bust years ago!

    Report this comment

    Citizen of EUSSR

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • None of this article makes much sense - Tesco should stick to what was agreed, and if they can't, too bad. No doubt they will try to baffle the council with their spurious arguments though, and the council as usual will cave in!

    Report this comment

    Norfolk and Good

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • What impresses me most about the new store at Wisbech is the architectural splendour of the new store and the adjoining cinema. At least Norfolk Council insisted on better designs for the new Tesco and Sainsburys at Kings Lynn - presumably Cambridgeshire Council were happy for Tesco to model this building on the nearby cold store! Not everyone has to be as keen as Steve Tierney is to see these monstrosities taking over the landscape!

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • No reason is given for why Tesco waited until six weeks before opening to claim the cinema will be two months late - but the foodstore will be ready as planned. They should invest in getting the cinema finished and open on time.

    Report this comment

    Josie Ratcliffe

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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