Supermarket study sets region’s stall out

Barnstaple’s retail offering will need to grow by nearly 30,000sq m by 2032 compared to just over 2,400sq m needed in Torridge, a study has found.

THERE is only room in North Devon for one more supermarket to meet the needs of its growing population, an in depth retail and leisure study has suggested.

The study, jointly funded by North Devon Council (NDC) and Torridge District Council (TDC), estimates North Devon will only need 3,972sq m of new supermarket space in the next 20 years.

It predicts that Torridge will only need 464sq m of similar of space between now and 2032.

The report has been compiled by Peter Brett Associates who conducted 1,001 telephone interviews with households, and then looked at the projected population and the expenditure growth across the two districts.

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The results could have a major bearing on two planning applications for a 5,398sq m Morrisons store on the Evans Transport site and a 6,820sq m Asda store at Anchorwood Bank, both in Barnstaple.

They could also hold some sway over on-going talks between NDC and Tesco about a supermarket in South Molton’s Central Car Park area.

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But Andrew Austen, lead officer for planning policy at NDC, said that although the results of the study would not predetermine an outcome for any application, they would provide material consideration for relevant planning applications.

He said: “We can use this to inform any impact assessment carried out for these planning applications and others.”

The study also found North Devon will need 28,742sq m of floor space for comparison goods – defined as home entertainment, clothes, household and electrical goods – and Torridge will need 2,468sq m by 2032.

Barnstaple town centre was identified as the top destination for shopping in the whole region, with �207.9m spent on comparison goods there in 2012, compared with just �57.9m in Bideford town centre and Atlantic Village combined.

The outlined need assumed that the 7,803sq m planned extension for Atlantic Village in Bideford, for which permission has already been granted, is delivered.

The results raised concerns about people from the Bideford area travelling to Barnstaple to do their shopping.

Councillor Roger Johnson, deputy leader of Torridge District Council, said: “This is an interesting report in terms of what effect it may or may not have on Bideford.

“I think Bideford has got to try and become more niche and play to its strengths to keep people here.

“People see the charm of the town – there are some lovely shops and restaurants and I think we need to grow on this.”

The councils will use these results to identify sites suitable to expand the areas’ shopping facilities and a 16,000sq m site at Queens Street and Bear Street looks set to be top of the list for North Devon.

Mr Austen said: “This site is the obvious one. We would need to work with Town Centre Management to find out what the demand is for.”

As well as retail space the study looked at the leisure needs of Torridge and North Devon during the next ten years.

The survey showed that half of the total leisure spend – �224m – was spent in food and drink establishments and the projected growth would support a number of new businesses.

A growth in theatre expenditure was also predicted, which would be absorbed by the current theatres, as well as the need for an additional cinema screen.

The report will be presented to North Devon Council’s Executive Committee on Tuesday.

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