Sainsbury report claims Tesco supermarket store for Station Road, Whittlesey is a non starter

SAINSBURY put their rivals onto the back foot today with a report that they believe show Tesco’s permission for a store in Station Road, Whittlesey, is doomed.

The report casts doubt on the viability of the Station Road store by detailing the expected hold ups to motorists caused by the level crossing.

“The crossing is either closed or there is a queue due to its closure, for between 10 per cent and 62 per cent of each day time hour depending on day and time,” says the report.

And the probability of customers being caught in the Saturday peak lunchtime period is up to 86 per cent.

Sainsbury commissioned the report from planning specialists Vectos after being frustrated by the delay in a similar report commissioned by Fenland District Council.

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On May 9 the council’s planning committee deferred applications by Tesco and Sainsbury for stores in Eastrea Road to enable further studies into whether the Station Road site was viable. That site had previously been given permission for a supermarket but Sainsbury argued that the level crossing constraints made it a non starter.

Now the Vectos report, if confirmed by Fenland Council’s own study, confirms access issues at Station Road then it could influence how councillors vote.

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Whittlesey councillor Martin Curtis said today the Vector reports “contains some serious issues, including highlighting potential queues of up to 400metres on Saturdays at the Station Road level crossing.”

However Cllr Curtis urged caution “because it is a representative of Sainsbury challenging Tesco. But it seems to be based on factual evidence and, as such, is worthy of debate”.

Graham Nourse, chief planning officer, told Sainsbury that “clearly the last thing any of the parties want is for the application to be deferred for a second time.”

He now expects a special planning committee on August 15 or 29 to determine the Sainsbury v Tesco Eastrea Road applications.

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