Asda ties up Barnstaple land deal

Joseph Bulmer

But can town cope with 10 supermarkets?

ASDA have signed a major land deal that looks set to pave the way for another large-scale supermarket development in Barnstaple.

The Gazette understands the company has reached an agreement for part of the land at Anchorwood Bank with site owners Leaderflush Shapland.

Detailed plans for a 40,000 sq ft (net retail space) supermarket on a site formerly occupied by Hanson Aggregates are expected to be unveiled at a public consultation event next month.

A planning application is said to be in the “advanced stages of preparation” and is likely to be submitted in late spring this year.

Outline planning permission for a retail development of up to 108,000 sq ft – as well as 450 homes, hotel, offices, community facilities and small shops, cafes and restaurants – was granted by North Devon Council in June 2008.

Asda, who opened a 29,000 sq ft store in Bideford in 2008, said it was looking forward to investing in Barnstaple and bringing an economic boost to the local area, including many new local jobs.

Chris Martin, property communications manager for Asda, added: “We will work with the council and consult with local residents and businesses in the coming weeks to deliver a store which will bring the Asda price guarantee to Barnstaple.”

Property development and investment company Development Securities PLC will be responsible for delivering the project though their South West partner, Wessex Projects Ltd.

A spokesperson for Wessex Projects said that technical and engineering issues relating to the site had already been resolved to ensure the application was 100 per cent deliverable.

But while the company said the building of a new food store would kick-start the long term regeneration of Anchorwood Bank, council leaders have already expressed concern about the number of supermarkets in Barnstaple, which currently has eight stores including three Co-Operatives, two Tesco, two Lidl and a Sainsbury’s.

Plans for a ninth were unveiled by Morrisons last month although the company’s proposals for a store on the Evans Transport site at Pottington have not yet been submitted to North Devon Council.

Since being asked for comment by the Gazette on Friday, council leader Des Brailey said he had asked his planning department for advice on the cost of a retail study to look at the impact of future developments in the town.

“While we have not had any official notification about Asda, I am very concerned about additional supermarkets in our area,” said Cllr Brailey.

“I have no bias towards any supermarket, however, with both Asda and Morrisons looking to come to the town I have a duty to ensure the viability of the town centre is not compromised.

“A retail study will in effect advise whether we have any capacity for additional food stores within our town.

“Naturally these studies are very expensive. However, I have an obligation to the current businesses within the town to safeguard the area from saturation.”

Any new supermarket developments must meet strict new Government guidelines introduced in 2009 to protect town centres.

Planning Policy Statement 4 (PPS4): Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth, is designed to ensure the viability of town centres and protect local shops at the heart of communities.

Todd Altman, managing director of Leaderflush Shapland parent company SIG Interiors Manufacturing, could not be reached for comment before the Gazette went to press.