Waitrose in secret talks

12:18 26 February 2013

A view of the Exmouth bus station. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 8513-08-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

A view of the Exmouth bus station. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 8513-08-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Archant

Supermarket giant Waitrose is in secret talks with the county council about acquiring its bus depot for a new store.

But if the plans go ahead, it could sink East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) masterplan and its hopes of regenerating Exmouth.

The district council has already earmarked the nearby rugby ground, which it owns, for sale to a superstore, with the funds going towards the town’s facelift.

The Journal has learned agents acting for Waitrose are negotiating with the county’s property representatives NPS - and preliminary proposals could be filed within a month.

A county council spokesman confirmed that NPS ‘had been approached by a development company, regarding the future of the land if Stagecoach were to vacate’.

A Waitrose spokesman said: “We’re often linked to potential sites and, although we have no plans at this moment in time, we are keen to increase our presence in the South West and in Exmouth.”

Meanwhile, district chiefs are hoping to start a supermarket tendering process for a ‘preferred bidder’ for the rugby ground by early next year. The rugby club would move to the Rolle Playing Fields as part of the deal.

The district council said this week the Exmouth Masterplan was ‘not primarily concerned’ with where best to put a food store - but how best to regenerate Exmouth town centre.

In response to the interest from Waitrose, a district council spokesman said: “Interest is shown in sites all the time and applications are regularly put forward.

“But if it was pursued (the Waitrose plans), it would be hard to see how this would deliver the regeneration ambitions for Exmouth as approved by the town, district and county councils.”

The rugby ground is categorised by the Environment Agency (EA) as being at a ‘high risk’ of flooding.

Before EDDC can ‘promote’ the ground for a food store, the Environment Agency says a vital two-stage flood test must be carried out.

The first would determine if any lower risk sites are available nearby – and district chiefs say this will begin within a month.

If lesser-risk sites are not available to the district council, a second ‘exception test’ judged by environment chiefs would be needed.

The bus depot is on higher ground and at less of a risk of flooding – The Journal understands that Waitrose would not want to develop the rugby ground because of the high cost of new flood defences.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “They (EDDC) would have to demonstrate that the economic benefits outweighed the flood risks and that the area (rugby ground) was safe.”

The spokesman said if the test failed, the the district council could choose to ignore the Environment Agency’s recommendations.

“But if it went to judicial review, they (EDDC) would be on the back foot,” he said.

1 comment

Other News Stories

Members of EDDC's Streetscene team investigating the sink hole on Exmouth beach

A permanent sign will be erected to warn people to stay away from the area of a sink hole which keeps reappearing on Exmouth beach.

Read more
Exmouth Visitor's Guide 2015/2016

The free Exmouth Visitors’ Guide 2015/2016 has been released, and is now available at the town hall and Tourist Information Service.

Read more
Martin Budd with his son Nathan will be joining around 25,000 other cyclists taking part in the 100 miles charity ride from the Olympic Park, out through Surrey and finishing on the Mall. Martin who celebrates his 50th birthday this weekend is riding for Sense while Nathan is raising moiney for CHSW. Ref exe 5892-30-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

An Exmouth father and son are preparing to emulate the heroes of London 2012 in a 100-mile charity cycle hallenge.

Read more
Vote

People are being asked if they think changes should be made to the number of polling stations in Exmouth - and if they are the right places.

Read more
Queens Drive Exmouth masterplan

District bosses have pledged to look ‘carefully’ at plans to build seafront flats just metres from where an ice-cream kiosk was washed into the sea.

Read more
12:30
Robin Burne and Richard Greetham, pictured having completed their London to Paris cycle challenge.

A Budleigh estate agent is celebrating after completing a marathon charity cycle challenge.

Read more
Bystock pond. By Geoff Martin

Bystock Pools beauty spot is on the cusp of being safeguarded for future generations, after a wildlife charity raised the £50,000 needed to buy the site.

Read more
10:12

Fire crews were called out yesterday evening (Thursday) to a gorse fire at Orcombe Point.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:23
Wooden doctor desk with copy space

Long-term sick leave for depression, personal stress and fatigue contributed to an increase in staff absence at East Devon District Council (EDDC) last year, new figures have revealed.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:28
Michael Portillo with artists Mark Loman (far left), Marcia Rowles and Ray Balkwill (far right).

Politician turned TV presenter Michael Portillo has made a whistle-stop visit to Exmouth to find out about a historic artist.

Read more

Local Weather

Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 10°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Competitions
Photo Orders
Family notices
iwitness24
Google Plus
Facebook
Twitter
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition today E-edition


Exmouth's trusted business finder