New Tesco store set to be approved for Whittlesey - but planners recommend refusal for Sainsbury’s

THERE is scope for only one new supermarket in Whittlesey - and that store should be a new Tesco - councillors will be told at a specially convened planning meeting next week.

Applications from Tesco and Sainsbury’s are due to go head to head on Wednesday, with both supermarket giants vying to build new stores with a petrol filling station in Eastrea Road.

Fenland District Council instructed consultants to appraise the applications, and they concluded: “Whittlesey cannot accommodate more than one out of town food store without severe impact being created on town centre trade.”

They say that although both proposed sites are outside the development area boundary, the Tesco site represents “a more natural extension to the town as it abuts the boundary. Tesco - who already have planning permission for a site in Station Road but will drop that in favour of the new site - are applying to build on the site of the former Eastrea Nursery.

Their plan includes a net retail sales area of 2,460 square metres, 621 parking spaces, a recycling area, and a bus stop at the front of the store. Councillors will be told “although the site is just outside the existing development area, it is considered to comply with current national, regional and local planning policy.”

But planners have decided that a Sainsbury’s store - their application is to build 3,066 square metres of sales space on agricultural land 180 metres outside the development boundary, “does not represent the most sustainable location for a foodstore to serve Whittlesey.” Their plan includes 386 car parking spaces and a hopper bus service, and the plan includes the change of use of adjoining agricultural land to form a country park.

Recommending refusal of the Sainsbury’s application, officers say: “The site is located within open countryside and not located within the identified broad areas of growth for Whittlesey,” and that the site is “unsustainable.”

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Businessman Bruce Smith of Whitacre Management Ltd and ‘architect’ of Sainsbury’s scheme, is also applied for outline permission to create a mixed use business park if the supermarket plan is approved.

Councillors will be told that “sufficient need for the scheme has not been demonstrated,” and it too should be turned down.

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