Exmouth supermarket plans return

THE HIGHLY debated issue of plans to build an Estuary-side supermarket in Exmouth have resurfaced.

Just months after Asda withdrew its proposals for a store in the town, The Journal understands bosses at two separate supermarkets are now looking to move in - with Exmouth Rugby Club’s ground a preferred location.

It is believed Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are two of the interested parties.

Chris Parks, chairman of the rugby club, was not aware of a definite interest from any supermarket wanting to build at their home at the Imperial Recreation Ground.

But, he said: “That is not to say if a sizeable offer was put to us we would not consider it.

“Any offer put on the table would have to enable us to surpass what we can offer as a club at the moment.”

Exmouth Rugby Club has been based at the recreation ground for more than 40 years.

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Mr Parks added: “For the level we are, we probably have a set-up consisting of the best facilities in the South West.

“We are happy with where we are at the moment and are not looking to move.”

The club, whose senior men’s team play in the National three South West league, was granted planning permission last year to expand its clubhouse but work has not yet started.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council said the plot occupied by Exmouth Rugby Club was an area being reviewed as part of a masterplan study for the town centre and sea-front.

The masterplan will look at ways the town could be developed and enhanced in years to come.

Consultants LDA Design will issue a draft study for public consultation shortly.

The spokesperson said: “Ideas generated by the study will be looked at in more detail to see if any of them could be progressed and how any chosen site would fit into a joined-up approach to enhancing the town centre and sea-front.

“Until such time as this process has been completed and there is a clear picture of the best way forward, any speculation about either the location of a supermarket, or any potential operator, is premature.”

A spokesperson for Waitrose confirmed it was keen to increase its presence in the South West.

Exmouth was singled out as a town of interest but the spokesperson said the company had no plans for a store at this moment in time.

Sainsbury’s refused to comment.

Asda blamed the economic climate for its decision to pull out early last year of a bid to build a store in Exmouth.