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Local Plan: doubts over golf course scheme

Plans for a Tesco on the
outskirts of Herne Bay have been thrown into doubt after an application for a
major development stalled.

Developers Quinn Estates have
put on hold proposals to build a sports hub and supermarket on the former golf
club site after questions were raised over Tesco’s commitment to the scheme.

The official line is that
negotiations with the retail giant, the third largest in the world, are
“ongoing”.

Yet the delay has been
significant enough to force a rethink in strategy for Quinn Estates, which
planned to build the supermarket and sports hub first before gaining planning
approval for 400 homes and commercial properties.

The company now aims to
submit a planning application for all its proposals together, which it says
will ensure “certainty and deliverability”.

Managing director Mark Quinn
exclusively told the Gazette this would not rule out approaching other
supermarkets or getting rid of a store all together. He said:

“We may consider not
having a supermarket or having a small one. At the moment we are still
negotiating with Tesco and we are not going to talk elsewhere until
negotiations are resolved one way or the other. It will either have a food
store or it won’t. There will be housing there instead and some other mixed
houses.”

Once the outcome of
negotiations with Tesco is clear, Quinn Estates aims to submit its new
all-encompassing planning application in the fourth quarter of this year.  It then hopes to gain
planning permission by this time next year, with work beginning from the middle
of 2014.

Mr Quinn insists housing
would be built after roads and the sports hub were put in place, including a state-of-the-art
clubhouse and football, hockey and cricket pitches. He said:

“We have decided after
much careful consideration that what’s important is delivering what we say we
are going to. The way we answer that is master planning the entire scheme and
delivering it. We don’t want to get planning for something and it then not to
go ahead. By doing the whole scheme at once, we gain certainty and
deliverability.”

This latest development
indicates that fears over Tesco’s desire to come to Herne Bay may have been a
long-running concern at Quinn Estates.

In February, Mr Quinn
insisted to the Gazette his development was not reliant on a Tesco superstore
being opened, but that having one would create jobs for local people and give
them more shopping choice. Mr Quinn added:

“This development will
definitely happen. What we are doing ensures that. All our plans are doing is
evolving. They may or may not include a supermarket but we hope it does. We are
waiting to see the outcome of these negotiations.”

Despite several requests,
Tesco had not given the Gazette a comment at the time of going to press.

HB Gazette 27th Jun 2013

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