Supermarket giant ends 10 years of speculation with shock announcement today (Thursday).

Tesco has scrapped plans to build a new store in South Molton's Central Car Park area. Picture: Andy KeebleTesco has scrapped plans to build a new store in South Molton's Central Car Park area. Picture: Andy Keeble

Tesco has announced it has scrapped plans to build a new store in South Molton.

The supermarket giant – which first announced intentions to come to the town in 2003 – blamed ‘changing market conditions’ but said the decision was not related to this week’s revelations that the firm had over-estimated half-year profits by £250m.

A spokesperson for Tesco said: “We recognise that some people will be disappointed with this decision and we’re very grateful for the support we’ve received in the past for our plans.

“The shopping habits of our customers have changed in recent years, with more people choosing to shop online and in convenience stores.

“In light of this, we have reviewed our proposals for South Molton and have made the difficult decision to not build a new store.

“We continue to serve our customers through our other stores in the area and through our online delivery service.”

He said the future of the Norringtons Yard site in the town’s Central Car Park was still uncertain, and that a number of options were now ‘on the table’.

“We’ll be working hard with North Devon Council to find an alternative use for the site and we’ll keep the community closely updated on progress,” he said.

Speaking at last night’s (Wednesday) full council meeting North Devon Council leader Brian Greenslade urged Tesco to ‘put up or shut up’.

Ward member John Moore added: “We’ve been chasing Tesco since 2003 and have had other people interested in that time who just been turned away.

“South Molton car park is a mess and it is going further down into the dumps. I think it’s time we move on.”

Following this morning’s announcement Diana Hill, head of property and technical services at North Devon Council, said: “Tesco has now confirmed to us that it will not be going ahead with plans to build a supermarket on land in the centre of South Molton.

“Although this is disappointing, we understand the reasons for Tesco’s decision and we intend to carry on working with them to find a positive solution for the land to benefit the community.

“We are now in talks with Tesco to look at potential marketing opportunities for both its land and our adjoining land. This could include either selling the land to another supermarket, or for a different purpose all together.”

Is this good or bad news for South Molton? Let us know what you think – email newsdfesk@northdevongazette.co.uk or call 01271 345056.