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Supermarket Expansion

Plans for a new Sainsbury's supermarket in Hartham Lane and an enlarged Tesco in Ware Road have been called in by The Secretary of State.

Both developments will now be considered together at a Public Enquiry later in the year.

Update
Since this article was written, Tesco have withdrawn their appeal and have scaled back their expansion plans. A planning application for a "modest" 6500 sq.ft extension to their sales area was given the go-ahead by the District Council in December 2009. This represents an increase in size of a quarter.

Meanwhile the Public Enquiry into Sainsbury's new store went ahead in September 2009, with a verdict expected in January 2010.

Hertford Town Council and local residents had lobbied the government to review both plans, supported by Hertford Civic Society

Tesco's application for a large store to replace the existing supermarket in Ware Road were unanimously rejected by The District Council last year. However, Sainsbury's plan for a modest store on the Brwery site were controversially approved by one vote at the beginning of the year. Both plans faced opposition from some local groups. However, traders in St.Andrew Street were in broad support of Sainsbury;s plansm, whilst recognising the traffic issues thrown up by the development.

Background

For the last twenty years Tesco's only competition in the town has been Waitrose and more recently Marks and Spencer. But in February 2007 Sainsbury's bought part of the town's old brewery and in 2008 submitted plans for a supermarket on the west of town, which were initialy rejected. However, a second planning application later in the year was approved at the beginning of 2009.

Under threat from a major competitor, Tesco revealed plans for an enlarged store, twice the size of the existing outlet. The plans would see the entire Ware Road site redeveloped and a new 44,000sq.ft store surrounded by housing built in place of the current store, which was built in the late eighties.

Both companies held exhibitions at The Corn Exchange to show off their plans to the public. Sainsbury's initial proposals drew particular criticism because of the limited access for traffic, whilst Tesco's plans have been branded overdevelopment. Other criticisms include the fact that Sainsbury's representatives at the exhibition seemed to have been poorly briefed on the area, whilst Tesco's plans were judged to be a knee-jerk reaction with little detail.

Here's how the plans compare:

Sainsburys   Tesco
 
 
New store on the former bottling plant and lorry park on the north bank of the River Lea
 
  Rebuilt store on existing site
Proposed area 25,000 sq.ft.   Proposed sales area 48,826 sq.ft.
Existing sales area is 23,936 sq.ft.
 
Proposed parking spaces 240   Proposed parking spaces 427
Existing spaces 283
 
Pedestrian link and footbridge to Bull Plain

Regeneration of vacant and unattractive part of town and restoration of listed Victorian brewery

400 new jobs

Space for community and commercial uses

Landscaping will encourage access to river bank

Working with statutory authorities to mitigate traffic impact and scheduling of delivery traffic

Additional food shopping and choice
  Rooftop parking

Mixed use develeopment with homes on Ware Road of up to four storeys

100 new jobs

Cafe/retail area to increase community feel

Redesign will enhance links with town centre

Site is on principle highway network, but needs new access to avoid additional congestion

Current store is dated, has limited range and is over-trading

picture of new store
Impression of new Tesco in Ware Road
Tesco have said that the redevelopment of their existing site means that they will have to build a temporary outlet at another location whilst the new store is being built, although they have not been able give any indication where this might be or the timescales involved.

Critics have suggested that Tesco's plans are little more than a tactic to try and limit the size of any new Sainsbury's store, pointing to the lack of detail in their exhibition and the poor quality of display materials.

Whilst the town already has three supermarkets, neither Tesco or Sainsbury's see Waitrose or Simply Food as direct competition.

Sainsbury's submitted their plans to East Herts District Council at the end of January, only to withdraw them two months later after planning officers recommended that the application be refused. Tesco have suggested that they may make a formal planning application for a new store and 50 homes in the early Summer.

plans of new store
Plan of new Sainsbury's store
Both plans are expected to face stiff opposition, especially the proposals from Tesco, which have led to the formation of Hertford Residents Against Tesco Expansion. Leaflets distributed outside their exhibition in January questioned the need for a larger Tesco as well as traffic and pollution concerns, architectural issues and the effect on local infrastructure.

In a separate development, Asda have revealed that they may build a new supermarket in the Ware, just two miles away, although planning is at a very early stage.

Controversial Past

Tesco's current store also caused controversy when first planned. The site was formerly the playing fields of Christ's Hospital school and featured a chapel - a well known local landmark.

Prior to this, the only supermarkets in Hertford were Waitrose, which opened in the early 80s, and a Fine Fare (latterly Gateway) in Maidenhead Street.

There are also two Co-Operatives in the town, on the Sele Farm Estate and in Bengeo.

Have your say and tell us what you think about Sainsbury's and Tesco's plans for Hertford.

See earlier coverage of this issue from 2008.


Government Backs Sainsbury's
The District Council has controversially approved plans for a new store
Tesco Plans Thrown Out
Tesco's plans for an enlarged store have been rejected

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