New start for fire-hit store

PUBLISHED: 12:45 09 February 2007 | UPDATED: 19:56 01 June 2010

INSURANCE bosses have agreed that the fire-gutted Rainbow super store in Wisbech can be demolished and a new, 26,000-square-metre store built on the site. Neil Double, chief executive of Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, said a 44-week development and

INSURANCE bosses have agreed that the fire-gutted Rainbow super store in Wisbech can be demolished and a new, 26,000-square-metre store built on the site.

Neil Double, chief executive of Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, said a 44-week development and construction project had been agreed and he hoped the new store would open by Christmas.

He said the company was "talking millions" in terms of the costs involved, but it was too early to give a definitive figure.

"It will take some time to get the new store back up since we have to place an order for the steel we need," he said.

"There's a 26-week ordering process to be gone through."

The fire, which broke out last November at the rear of the building, caused more damage than originally thought.

"We had hoped to use portable buildings at the back as a temporary warehouse but because of the way the original store was built it turned out to be more serious," he said.

Lightweight steel structures holding up the roof were badly warped in the blaze which at one time saw heat rising to as high as 1,500 degrees Centigrade inside the blazing building.

"At the very least we would have had to have taken the roof off and removed the outside walls, and that alone would have taken 36 weeks," he said.

In the event insurers decided the best solution would be demolition and have agreed for a new store to be built on the same site.

"We will start from scratch," said Mr Double, adding that a project team had been put together and was already helping to reinforce the steel in the existing building to make it safe for demolition experts to go in.

Sixty full and part-time staff were employed at the Rainbow store. Many have been re-deployed to March and

Peterborough.

"The staff are spread around, and getting into work through car sharing and other ways," he said.

"We hope to see them all back in Wisbech as soon as possible.

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