Yeovil Town's plans to build a Food Store at Huish Park appear to be under threat from expansion plans for the town's Quedam Shopping Centre. The freehold owners UBS Triton have written to South Somerset District Council, via their planning advisors Iceni Projects objecting to the club's supermarket plans on the basis that they have similar town centre proposals lined up.
UBS Triton have had long-standing plans to expand the current Quedam Centre lay-out and plan to use land surrounding Vincent's Car Centre in Market Street to expand the shopping centre into that area. In their letter to SSDC, UBS's objections - recorded in this week's Western Gazette - are largely in line with SSDC's planning department report on the application. However, the key problem for the football club is that UBS have their own plans for a supermarket within that expansion. Their letter states:
"UBS is presently formulating proposals for the (Vincent's Garage) site which would include an anchor food unit. The intention is to bring forward a detailed planning application as soon as possible, but in any event, within the next 12 months. The redevelopment of the Vincent's Garage site would incorporate structural and aesthetic changes to the Quedam Centre, and would conclusively read as an extension to the Centre."
The argument presented by UBS is that their site fits more rationally into the Government's National Planning Policy Framework, which requires local councils to perform a 'sequential test' which assesses the suitability of town centre locations for retail outlets ahead of out of town outlet. They claim that allowing the Huish Park proposals to proceed ahead of theirs would result in a "significant loss of investment (that) would undermine the performance of the Quedam centre and Yeovil town centre as a whole, and in turn, (affect) retailer and customer confidence."
Yeovil Town's planning advisors MWA have previously claimed that there are no suitable town centre locations for a supermarket within the town, and therefore that permission should be granted for an out of town store. At the time MWA's argument was that the Vincent's Garage site would not be available until 2016, and potentially required road junction improvements and compulsory purchase orders to be realised. The test of whether Vincent's Garage is a suitable location will therefore be a crucial one, regardless of whether UBS realise their overall plans.
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