Eddie

Hester's Way revamp will be scrapped if Asda gets permission for Cheltenham store

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MULTI-MILLION pound plans to regenerate Hester's Way will be scrapped if a new Asda store is given the green light, say developers.

B2 Retail says the long-awaited redevelopment of the dilapidated Coronation Square shopping district is entirely dependent on councillors rejecting proposals for the supermarket in Up Hatherley.

The sudden ultimatum prompted officers at Cheltenham Borough Council to put the Asda plans on ice, just hours before they were due to go before the planning committee yesterday. In a last-minute letter to officers, B2 Retail's director Bill Scarborough warned there would be dire consequences if the supermarket was built just over a mile away.

"The main anchor proposal for the Coronation redevelopment comprises of a 1,400 sq m Tesco store, as well as a food offering from the Cooperative Society," he said.

"If the Asda proposal should succeed, our anchor tenants for Coronation Square will not proceed, making the viability of this project fail.

"Ultimately, therefore, the regeneration of Coronation Square will not occur and the Civic Pride initiative for this area will also fail."

Plans to overhaul Coronation Square, which was built in the 1960s, have been bandied around for years.

Its regeneration comes under the council's Civic Pride plans to tidy up run-down areas of Cheltenham.

B2 Retail announced in March the redevelopment might finally go ahead next year if it is backed by councillors when an application is submitted in July.

It hopes to attract a restaurant, fashion stores and a newsagent to the site, which is currently a wasteland of boarded-up shops.

Meanwhile, Cheltenham Office Park (COP) and Robert Hitchins Ltd signed a deal with Asda in January to build the supermarket and an 80,000 sq ft office park on the former Woodward Diesel Systems headquarters in Hatherley Lane.

They say the plans could create up to 1,000 jobs and have also agreed to pay for a £1.97 million wish list of road improvements in the area.

Although nearly three months have passed since the application was first submitted to the council, B2 Retail only chose to object on Wednesday. The application was due to be ruled on by councillors last night. It will now be considered by the planning committee in June, after B2 Retail has explained why a new Asda would have an impact on Coronation Square shops.

Senior planning officer Martin Chandler said: "The objection suggests that the detrimental impact on Coronation Square can be demonstrated 'beyond doubt', but this has certainly not been demonstrated in the submission provided.

"In light of these shortcomings, it is considered that for the objection to be given any weight in the determination of this application, it has to be supported by clear analysis to demonstrate why the impact on the regeneration proposals will be so severe."

County councillor Simon Wheeler, whose patch covers both Coronation Square and The Reddings, said: "I am very keen to see something happen to the square.

"It is something we all want and need.

"But I do not see how the Asda store would unduly affect a Tesco in the square.

"The people who go shopping in Asda will not be the same ones using the shops in Coronation Square."

A spokesman for COP said: "Whilst we are disappointed that the planning application for the Hatherley Lane regeneration has been deferred, we respect the officers' decision and look forward to the next planning committee meeting in June.

"It remains our aim to bring jobs and a significant boost to the local economy by developing the biggest brownfield site in Cheltenham."

TIG

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Since when did Tesco worry about being near any other stores? Coronation Square desperately needs sorting.

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Coronation Square desperately needs sorting.

I agree. It is long past time something was done to spruce this area up

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edevelopment of Coronation Square.

Cheltenham Office Park have submitted to the borough council proposals for the 6,900 sq m supermarket and office park on the former Woodward Diesel site in Hatherley Lane.

The plans were due to be considered by councillors last month, but a last-minute objection by Coronation Square developers B2 Retail forced officers to defer until June 24.

The team driving the Hester's Way regeneration believe an Asda would torpedo their proposal to create a shopping hub with its own Tesco store, which the council has been involved in as part of its Civic Pride initiative.

But a spokesman for COP has insisted B2 Retail has nothing to fear, saying: "There is no need for negativity about Coronation Square. It's a district shopping centre, which we believe has a bright future.

"We are confident the two regeneration schemes can not only co-exist, but would both thrive. Why should they be mutually exclusive?

"They are very different retail offerings and Hester's Way wouldn't lose out."

B2 Retail's last-minute objection, sent 24 hours before the planning committee was due to rule on the Asda proposals, has sparked anger on both sides.

Residents supporting COP claim B2 Retail are holding the council to ransom by threatening the Civic Pride initiative, while Coronation Square fans said nothing should affect the long-awaited regeneration.

B2 Retail director Bill Scarborough said he objected because the group had only been made aware of the plans' scale at the eleventh hour and planning officers had not kept his team sufficiently informed.

He said the proposed Asda was too big and would "destroy" all other retail in the area.

But a spokesman for the supermarket said the two developments were aimed at different markets.

COP said its plans could create up to 1,000 jobs and had agreed to pay for a £1.97 million wish list of traffic improvements, including a new roundabout in Hatherley Lane.

The proposals have also been backed by the Gloucestershire and Cheltenham chambers of commerce and the Institute of Directors, which said it would boost the local economy.

TIG

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Cheltenham Borough Council officers have recommended approval for the 80,000sq ft store and offices at the former Woodward Diesel site, in Hatherley Lane.

Planning officer Martin Chandler said in his report to councillors that the two schemes were very different and could exist together.

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The controversy goes on

THE leaders of a Hester's Way regeneration project say they have been left "in disarray" by the expected approval of plans for an Asda in Cheltenham.

Proposals to bring the food superstore to the former Woodward Diesel site in Hatherley Lane look set to be approved this week after being given the thumbs-up by planning officers.

The decision has cast a shadow over a blueprint to regenerate Coronation Square, a £10 million scheme comprising clothes shops, cafes and a Tesco food store.

B2 Retail group, the organisation behind the project, says the extra competition brought by Asda's arrival will cause investors to pull out, leaving its plans in tatters.

Director Bill Scarborough said: "We are hugely disappointed with the planning officer's recommendation.

"We set out our objections and they have all been ignored. We have no choice but to accept it if it does go ahead, but it will take plans to regenerate Coronation Square back to square one.

"More than anything I'm disappointed for the people of Hester's Way who have been waiting for the area to be improved for years."

Mr Scarborough said he would not give up hope until a final decision had been made by members of the council's planning committee, who meet tomorrow night.

He is planning to make a last-ditch representation at the meeting in a bid to persuade councillors to block the Asda scheme.

He added: "I will have just three minutes to put across all our key arguments for why this should not go ahead.

"Although we haven't completely given up, it's not looking good. Our plans are in disarray and if the Asda goes ahead we will be finished. Unfortunately it's the community who will lose out."

A spokesman for Tesco warned B2 Retail earlier this month that it would almost certainly pull out if the Asda scheme was rubber-stamped.

But case officer Martin Chandler said in his report to councillors the rival schemes were very different and could exist together.

"No clear evidence has been provided to demonstrate a significant adverse impact on the proposed generation of Coronation Square," he said.

He described the Asda project as "a high quality scheme" which would regenerate a large brownfield site, creating 1,000 jobs and providing £1.97m for traffic improvements.

The Asda plans, submitted by Cheltenham Office Park (COP), include an 80,000 square feet store and offices. A COP spokesman welcomed the recommendation but said the decision rested with councillors. Planning committee members will consider the application at the Municipal Offices at 6pm tomorrow.

TIG

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On 07/05/2013 at 10:41 AM, Tony said:

I wish that I could read this story, but it seems to have been deleted!

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On 07/10/2017 at 2:13 PM, Stephen Lovatt said:

I wish that I could read this story, but it seems to have been deleted!

That's what happens to stories that are 4 years old......

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Copies of the old issues should still be available in Cheltenham's main library, though. In Gloucester, they used to keep back issues of both the Citizen and Echo, but when I went looking for an Echo published around March 20th which reported the Eastbourne school uniform change six months in advance, I found that they'd stopped keeping the latter.

Cuts, I suppose.

Incidentally, in Googling the Mirror article which reported the issue, and referenced the Echo article (dead link because of another revamp), I found an article about another school demanding 'piping' on trousers and skirts http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/outrage-after-schools-small-change-10790292. Usually, schools are prohibitive about what pupils can wear, not prescriptive. In the latter case, they should, as I said in the comments, allow time to phase in the new requirements, so parents don't waste money.

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