Battle over Bath Tesco and Sainsbury's supermarket plans hots up after Homebase move
The battle of the supermarket giants in Bath is hotting up as the firm which owns land needed for a £160 million Sainsbury's development says it will not give up the site.
The refusal of Homebase to budge from its Pines Way site could make it easier for Tesco to win permission for a rival store on the former Bath Press factory in Lower Bristol Road.
The Tesco scheme had been due to be discussed by members of Bath and North East Somerset Council's development control committee yesterday afternoon.
But at the last minute it was withdrawn from the agenda after Homebase contacted the council to say it had no plans to vacate land that Sainsbury's wants for a new superstore until at least 2020.
Limited Deal. All day wedding photography only £545.00View details
All day wedding photography only £545.00
From Bridal preparations to first dance.
250+ Hi Res images on disc with full printing rights.
Professional photography at affordable prices.
Free no obligation consultations.
Offer subject to availability.
Book before 31st May 2013.
Available in Bath, Bristol and surrounding areas.
Contact: 01225 439257
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Sainsbury's says it still plans to put in an application for a £160 million regeneration of its Green Park site, including the rebuilding of the store on the Homebase plot, in the next few days.
The stumbling block to the Sainsbury's plan could help Tesco because of a policy called "sequential testing", which states that sites closest to the city centre should be prioritised for development.
Because of this, council officers who had recommended that the Tesco application should be refused, are now having to reconsider whether they think it should go ahead or not.
In a statement this week Sainsbury's maintained its intention to take over the Homebase site between now and 2026 and insisted there was no immediate rush.
It said: "The council's development strategy – known as a core strategy – plans for the expansion of Bath's city centre to incorporate the eastern end of Bath Western Riverside by 2026. The expanded city centre includes additional food shopping floorspace.
"However, the council's independent planning evidence shows that there is no urgent need to bring forward the additional floorspace. As such, there is no issue in planning terms if Sainsbury's does not build its replacement foodstore in the short term and, importantly, no need for the council to accept similar development on less suitable sites in the mean time. Sainsbury's also has the option to expand its existing Green Park food store as approved earlier this year."
But Tesco said there was "substantial evidence that Bath's supermarkets are overtrading and residents are travelling outside of the city in search of more choice."
It added: "Waiting over a decade will miss the opportunity to meet customer needs and deliver a truly exciting regeneration project now.
"A Tesco store is only one element of these plans and demand for the 600 jobs, new office space and affordable homes has never been stronger."
Officers recommending that the Tesco scheme be refused had also raised concerns about the impact on small businesses in nearby Moorland Road and traffic worries.
The proposed development would include a single storey supermarket with a 395-space car park below it, creative work space, offices, a two-storey community hall, a museum and ten new houses.
Two very similar schemes involving Tesco have previously been submitted but were withdrawn before the council made a decision on whether they would be approved.