EXCLUSIVE: Tesco ‘mothball’ £22 million Chatteris store just weeks before it was due to open with prospect of 250 jobs

00:04 21 September 2014

Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.

Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.

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Tesco’s £22 million 47,000 square feet Chatteris store – due to open in November with the prospect of 250 jobs- is to be mothballed and temporarily boarded up.

Chatteris Tesco store, Underpass under construction.Picture: Steve Williams.Chatteris Tesco store, Underpass under construction.Picture: Steve Williams.

The company dropped the bombshell this weekend – just weeks after it appointed a new chief executive Dave Lewis to stem falling profits.

Bryn Woodward, Tesco corporate affairs manager, said: “After careful consideration we have decided to delay the opening of our new store in town.”

The company’s decision was immediately denounced by Fenland councillor and former Chatteris mayor Florrie Newell.

She was among the first to learn the news after receiving a letter from Mr Woodward.

Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.

“I’m absolutely furious,” she said. “For some reason I was the first to be notified. I checked with the Chatteris Town Council clerk and she had not been told and Fenland District Council knew nothing about it either.

“They’ve moved the river, put the underpass in and put in that disgusting roundabout which causes major hold ups because it is not suitable for heavy goods vehicles.”

Cllr Newell added: “We’ve had no end of complaints about it. “There was a 40 minute hold up there when a lorry got stuck.

“Now, they are just going to board up the site and leave it. What about the underpass? That could attract vandals. And there was the promise of all those jobs, which was a lot of lies.”

Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.

Tesco’s new boss has been handed a ‘war chest’ by the board of directors of a rumoured £700million to restore the company’s fortunes.

But clearly, as was explained by Mr Woodward that does not include opening, for now at least, a store in Chatteris.

Instead the store will lie empty after deciding it was “slowing down” its build programme.

As part of the development, a river bed has been moved, an underpass built and a roundabout installed which has sparked numerous complaints.

Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.Chatteris Tesco store, Roundabout.Picture: Steve Williams.

Mr Woodward told Mrs Newell that “after careful consideration we have decided to delay the opening of our new store in town.

“As we announced earlier this year we are slowing down our store opening programme.

“We recognise that some people will be disappointed with this decision and we are very grateful for the support we’ve received in the past for our plans.

“This means that when the developer completes the shell of the building we will retain the current hoardings protecting the site.

Chatteris Tesco store, Underpass under construction.Picture: Steve Williams.Chatteris Tesco store, Underpass under construction.Picture: Steve Williams.

“We know how important this site is to the local community and we will make sure the site remains secure and tidy and will respond quickly to any concerns from our neighbours.”

Last year private equity group, Osprey Income and Growth 3 LP, said it had completed the “forward funding acquisition” of the superstore at Chatteris. It had been pre-let to Tesco on an unbroken 25-year lease, with rental uplifts index-linked to RPI.

The planning consent for the site has been undertaken by Harrier Developments, one of the companies owned by Manea based developer Richard Sears. Harrier also won consent for a Tesco store in Station Road, Whittlesey, but work has not started on that scene. Harrier tried to switch consent for another site, in Eastrea Road, but planners backed a rival scheme, on behalf of Sainsbury’s, put forward by businessman Bruce Smith of March. Ironically the Sainsbury’s store, delayed after unsuccessful legal challenges by Mr Sears, is still awaiting a start date.

Earlier this month Liz Dent of ICIS Consulting of Manea, who describes herself as the “developer” of the Chatteris site, responded to readers’ concerns about the roundabout.

“As I’m sure you appreciate the highway works have been implemented strictly in accordance with a design approved, heavily vetted and safety audited by the county council.

“The new roundabout arms are designed to slow traffic down when entering the roundabout whilst also providing fast exits in order to maximise the traffic flows. Kerb re-alignment works are currently been undertaken on the northern exit flare of the site roundabout to provide a wider exit.”

She added: “We anticipate that all traffic management will be removed over the next

few weeks as works come to an end.

“As we move closer to completing the development, hoarding boards have been installed to secure the store during Tesco¹s fit out works.”

17 comments

  • I do wonder if Tesco ever planned to open. They have ensured that Chatteris will always be deprived of decent comptetion regarding supermarkets. The Shambles that is the Co-op is woefully inadequate and now Tesco have ensured that we will never have a Sainsburys, Morrisons Asda or Aldi. Although I am glad that Tesco are not opening - I love the little shops that we have already and the idea of a Tesco garage competing with the company that has served this community so well for so long is absurd. Good riddance Tesco but someone else pleasae take over the building.

    Report this comment

    Toni Francis

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

  • I agree I think the whole site now should be turned over to another supermarket, AS I recall we voted for another supermarket not Tesco's anyway. This is now and will be a waste of the tax payers money that went to fund the road rebuilding etc.

    Report this comment

    Grumbleguts

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

  • Re: Richard Dretzler Or it could simply be because they've just been rumbled for "accidentally" overstating their profits, causing their share price to tumble....

    Report this comment

    Ian Fleming

    Monday, September 22, 2014

  • I think Tesco have woken up, slightly too late in this case, to the changing trends in shopping. Online orders have traditionally been serviced by staff picking orders in local stores, but retailers like Tesco are now setting up "dark stores" just for online orders. With the huge increase in online supermarkets this means local stores will be required less and less in future. That's progress for you!

    Report this comment

    Norfolk and Good

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • I think it's Tesco's getting at FDC because they gave Sainsbury's permission in Whittlesey!

    Report this comment

    Kasmarch

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • Perhaps if they had chosen Sainsburys they would now be living well for less. At least Eastrea made the right choice.

    Report this comment

    Villager

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • Well, I'm an educated, worldly wise, mature person, but all I can say to this is "Bummer!"

    Report this comment

    Sandra Hughes

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • @Citizen of EUSSR, Fenland District Council would have approved planning permission for true store, not Combs County Council. As they already have a store in March and Wisbech I would doubt Tesco would bother to seek permissions for a store in Whittlesey if they can't open the one in Chatteris first so there wouldn't be an application for them to refuse. Even then, planning permission needs to be turned down based on planning grounds, not because you don't like the person or group making the application.

    Report this comment

    David Isaacs

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • How much of a loss would Tesco have to have been looking at, in order to decide not to open this store, after having done all that work, paid all those people, and signed up to that insane 25-year rip-off deal? By not opening, they're guaranteed to be making huge losses: how much do you imagine it costs to maintain and rent a site like that when there's no money coming in? That's without vandalism and so on... they must have conducted market research before beginning to source finance for this project and found people spending money like water, and then when they rechecked this year, everyone was paying back their credit cards, Wonga loans and overdrafts.... how could such a clever company be making such a mistake? Why is Sainsbury making the same mistake in Whittlesey? Because the credit's too cheap. This isn't about evil capitalists and their silly whims. It isn't even about evil councils and the unnecessary costs and distortions they apply when someone wants to make a roundabout (amazing that they now criticise the developers for following a plan they dictated and signed off on!!!!!!!). It's about loose money, phoney interest rates, fractional reserve banking and QE. This is a monetary disaster and there's more to come.

    Report this comment

    Richard Dretzler

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • This is a classic Misesian malinvestment. The central bank has suppressed interest rates, causing investors to favour longer-term projects which would not have been attractive at a higher cost of borrowing. No doubt research on the ground found that rather than growing, the consumer-base intended to support a large new store in the town was in fact shrinking due to the absence of saving and prevalence of consumer borrowing. So much waste, so much tragedy and the Austrians have been telling you this for more than a century. The local council's response? Blame business, expand government (see recent local stories regarding teams of do-gooders about to be instituted to preach at manual workers, targeting travellers, migrants and offenders for particular attention) and continue to suppress the interest rate (who in Fenland or Cambridgeshire District councils is for interest rate increases to a needed 3 or 4% andor the abolition of the Bank of England?). This country is on track to become the next Weimar Republic and the Left are cheering now as they were then.

    Report this comment

    Richard Dretzler

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • It's a pity Tesco have made such a shambles of opening this store - what a total public relations disaster. Cambs County Council should now tell them NO PLANNING PERMISSION FOR ANY NEW STORES until this one opens

    Report this comment

    Citizen of EUSSR

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • There should be rules to stop this dog-in-a-manger behaviour. Why can't it now be turned over to a rival supermarket? East Cambs need to look carefully at this, so the same doesn't happen in Ely.

    Report this comment

    Al Finn

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • Did we ever really need another Tesco in the area, No. A supermarket but Morrison or Asda etc. give us more choice. Would also encourage Tesco to get their act together

    Report this comment

    Paul Hollingsworth

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • Agree, any problems with the layout, are as much the fault of Florrance Newell and the council. Not properly reviewing the planning permission and only focusing on the ££. Again, complete incompetence from fenland council. I'm surprised Tesco even picked Chatteris for a 22 million development. Fenland council should be assisting Tesco's any ways they can, and not moaning about it, to encourage the development to resume.

    Report this comment

    Steve Fox

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • I am somewhat not surprised by the turn of events tesco have put there self's in.. Greed has taken hold of this food giant that thought was untouchable. This is a sign of really what they think of there customers. Bombarding the high streets with there shops and trying to drain other retailers out of business. Perhaps now some carding food chain Group will release us all and take over the site. As for Tesco's I think your days have started to be counted.

    Report this comment

    Nigel Bishop

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • Typical mayor moaning about nothing. Stop Counting your people's tax money and do a decent job for a change. Tesco have stoped it cause it needs to worry about the stores that are open. As a Tesco member of staff its Good it's stopped. Stop moaning and get a social life

    Report this comment

    Scott Walton

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

  • What an amazing reputation Tesco are getting themselves in Fenland....

    Report this comment

    me-in-whittlesey

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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