Sainsbury’s could shelve Whittlesey store plan if consent isn’t signed off before June 30, warns developer

Bruce Smith pictured in 2011 with plans for the Sainsbury's store and country park.

Bruce Smith pictured in 2011 with plans for the Sainsbury's store and country park. - Credit: Archant

Sainsbury’s could scrap its plans to open a supermarket in Whittlesey if consent is not signed off by Fenland District Council before the end of next month.

The warning was given by developer Bruce Smith, of Whitacre Management, at tonight’s meeting of Whittlesey Town Council.

Mr Smith read out a letter he sent to Fenland District Council’s head of planning Graham Nourse earlier today.

It read: “I write to confirm that if a planning consent is not issued by June 30, 2015, (including the completion of any required Section 106 agreement) then Sainsbury’s will be able to terminate their contractual commitments and withdraw from the transaction to deliver a food store and country park in Whittlesey.

“Accordingly, any investment in job creation, consumer choice and the country park will be lost.

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“The public have overwhelmingly supported this application for nearly four years and so I would urge you not to lose sight of this date as there is nothing I can do once it has passed to recover the situation.

“There are no other food store operators willing to come forward. Indeed from press announcements I would infer that Sainsbury’s, if given the chance and if they had their time again, would not progress this opportunity.

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“I cannot impress upon you enough that this is really a once in a generation opportunity for Whittlesey which if lost will never be repeated.”

Mr Smith said the sign-off is only being delayed by “technical highway changes” and called for the consent to be approved without the planning application having to go back to the planning committee, a move he said would not be “a beneficial use of members’ time”.

Mr Smith added: “Can you please advise me of the determination date for deciding these applications as a matter of extreme urgency as I am coming under pressure to make a public statement to supporters.

“I and Whittlesey town are solely in your hands as to whether this scheme can ever be delivered.”

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