Tesco and Sainsbury locked in bitter battle to expand into Fenland town

TESCO accused rivals Sainsbury of trying to “buy public support and planning permission” by offering Whittlesey a 54 acre country park as part of a development package.

“Whatever happens in Whittlesey there will be a Tesco food store,” Justin Mills, a director of Contour Planning Services has told Fenland District Council.

Mr Mills is working with Manea based Harrier Developments Ltd to open a Tesco store which will either be on the Station Road site for which consent has been given or off Eastrea Road.

“Despite Tesco’s publicly stated position, the Sainsbury’s application has no regard to the Tesco commitment in the town,” says Mr Mills. “Such an omission is a fundamental flaw in the application.”

Sainsbury has been working with March based developer Bruce Smith on a rival Eastrea Road site that will include housing and a country park.


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However Mr Mills says statements put out by Sainsbury are “based on an erroneous assumption that there is no realistic prospect of the Station Road store being delivered.

“This assumption is fatally flawed since Tesco are contractually committed to take the food store at Station Road in the event that the Eastrea Road application is not approved.

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“To put it simply what the council’s decision on Harrier Development’s Eastrea Road proposal – which is a direct substitution for the Station Road proposal- Tesco will be opening a food store in Whittlesey.”

Mr Mills says a retail assessment looked at likely outcome of both being allowed and “it concluded that the level of impact on the vitality of the town centre would be catastrophic.”

Planners at Fenland Hall are still studying both Eastrea Road options.

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