Up, up and away- Tesco’s plans will create a gateway to Wisbech, jobs boost and eight screen cinema

JUGGLING hundreds of extra car movements will be a major challenge facing developers who unveiled their �50million plan for a Tesco Extra, retail park and cinema complex.

Jonathan Clogg, whose company bought the former greyhound stadium six years ago where Tesco Extra will now be built, expects synchronised traffic lights to operate through to the town bridge.

He said: “The word gateway is used in relation to this to provide a through portal to encourage people into town.”

Upgrading junctions, creating new bus stops and providing ease of access to Tesco Extra and the cinema - and drawing traffic into the new retail park on the old Tesco site - is included in the development brief.

The sheer scale and speed of the transition from dormant site to superstore surprised both district and town councillors who have been shown details of the schemes in the past week.


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The new Tesco Extra will, for example, be what Mr Clogg describes as a “store on stilts” providing underground parking, with access points to travelators to allow shoppers to move up to two shopping floors.

He has nothing but praise for officers at Fenland Hall. He said: “They have been helpful since the very first day we got involved in the stadium site in 2006. They have interrogated the process throughout and have been very co-operative.

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“Much more importantly, too, they have engaged with us to guide the process and – win lose or draw - have enabled planning and statutory bodies to get round a table and discuss what’s required.”

He had never doubted a retail park would emerge from the stadium site and says “we are now ready to submit our detailed plans to the council to enable us to start building what will be one of the most iconic mixed-use developments in the region”.

MORE than 500 new jobs are likely to be created in Wisbech over the coming years following Tesco’s bid to build a new superstore on the site of the former greyhound stadium.

The plans will also see The Light Cinemas open one of the UK’s first all-digital cinemas in time for Christmas next year.

Tesco has joined forces with Cromwell Retail Park Ltd to redevelop both the stadium site and the nearby Tesco site in Wisbech.

The project will see a Tesco Extra superstore, a ‘21st-century’ eight-screen digital cinema and several family restaurants built on the former stadium site.

The existing Tesco store will be knocked down to make way for the new Cromwell Retail Park.

Family restaurants including Frankie & Benny’s will open adjoining the cinema while Next, Matalan, New Look, Dreams and Sports World are some of a number of retailers being lined up for the new retail park.

Ed Heppenstall, senior development manager of Tesco, said: “Tesco has a long-term commitment to Wisbech and we look forward to creating even more jobs and giving our customers more choice and a better shopping experience.”

Keith Pullinger, commercial director of The Light Cinemas, said: “Wisbech will become one of the first communities in the UK to benefit from The Light Cinemas’ innovative vision of creating flexible and community-orientated, all-digital cinema destinations.

“The potential spin-off benefits for local residents and local businesses should not be underestimated.”

The scheme in brief

2003: Stadium closes.

2006-9: Combined retail leisure planning consents granted for stadium site.

2009-10: Tesco, established in Wisbech for 15 years, gets permission for new food store on existing site in Sandown Road.

2010-11: Developers ‘square the circle’, bringing Tesco’s existing site and stadium into fresh equation.

2011: New development of both sites promise retention of eight-screen cinema, three family restaurants.

2011: Tesco Extra described as “store on stilts” with underground parking. Promise of 500 full and part-time jobs to be created.

Timetable

February 2011: Planning applications submitted.

Early spring 2011: Determination.

Late 2011/2012: Tesco Extra and cinema development begins.

Late 2012/Christmas: Tesco Extra, cinemas, restaurants open.

Late 2012: Demolition team moves into former Tesco store.

End 2012: Work starts on new non-food retail park on existing Tesco site.

Late autumn 2013: Non-food retail park development opens.

Tesco in Wisbech

• Established locally for 15 years.

• Currently employs 291 staff.

• Will move from 60,000sq ft store to 88,000sq ft unit.

Leisure Park and restaurants

• Up to 250 new food store jobs – local jobs, says Tesco, for local people.

• Development creates a new ‘gateway’ to Wisbech.

• Eight-screen digital multiplex cinema and three to four restaurants will create 75-plus jobs.

• Cinema to provide 3D cinematograph, sport, culture/music and video and educational conferencing for companies, colleges and schools.

Redevelopment of existing Tesco site

• 85,000sq ft non-food retail units.

• Up to 200 full-time and part-time jobs.

• Range of national and regional retailers.

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