Waitrose scraps Shrewsbury superstore plan
Supermarket giant Waitrose has shelved plans to build a huge store in Shrewsbury, blaming 'challenging market conditions'.
Waitrose won planning permission to build a new 30,000sq ft store on Oteley Road from Shropshire Council more than four years ago and had said it would bring up to 200 jobs to the town.
But work on a site next to the Percy Thrower's Wyevale Garden Centre had stalled, leading some to question if it would ever begin.
Waitrose, which is part of the John Lewis group, had been embroiled in a planning row with budget retailer Lidl.
Earlier this year the firm wrote to Shropshire Council registering its opposition to the Lidl plans, which were subsequently given planning permission.
In a letter, Ken Harrison, acquisitions and development manager at Waitrose, warned that approval for Lidl would put his company’s plans in jeopardy.
He said: "What is certain is that if the council approve the Lidl planning application, as a result of the impact it will have on our trade, it will seriously jeopardise the chances of this store happening.”
Lidl was granted planning permission for its new store in April and contractors moved on to the site at the Shrewsbury Town Football Club stadium at Oteley Road in July. The store is due to open early next year creating 40 new jobs.
A Waitrose spokesperson said today: “It is with regret that we are no longer able to proceed with our plans for a store on Oteley Road.
"We have sadly been unable to find a way to make the scheme viable in light of the challenging market conditions that have arisen since receiving planning permission more than four years ago.
“Despite a long held aspiration to open a supermarket here to complement our shop in the town centre, we would not wish to develop a store which was not sustainable and would put at risk the jobs of those local people we had hoped to employ in the future.
“We share the disappointment this will cause for many people who have been looking forward to us opening and are grateful to those who supported us, as well as the council’s planners for their work.”
Oteley Road is the site of considerable development plans, which include Shrewsbury Southern Sustainable Urban Extension.
The development will be made up of around 550 homes, 35 acres of commercial space, and will feature a community centre, a care home, a doctor's surgery and a pub.
Shropshire Council ward member for Sutton, Councillor Ted Clarke said he was very disappointed that Waitrose had called a halt on their plans.
"It was an integral part of the Oteley Road development," he said. "As I understand it there were meant to be a number of other businesses there and now there will have to be a great deal of rethinking done as to how the site can move forward."