Council’s no retail vow for Welwyn Garden City Tesco site

PUBLISHED: 13:05 11 September 2011

The former Shredded Wheat factory in WGC

The former Shredded Wheat factory in WGC


INDEPENDENT experts have criticised a report commissioned by Tesco, which claimed Welwyn Hatfield Council’s planning guidelines for the Broadwater Road site in WGC were financially unviable.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of documents and reports that make up our planning application, clearly we disagree with the findings of this particular one.
The council will make a final decision based on a full analysis of all the evidence before them. When taken together the reports show this to be a highly positive investment for the town."

Tesco spokesman Michael Kissman

Supermarket bosses have submitted the report as part of their planning application for the site, in a bid to prove their proposal is the best for the future of the former Shredded Wheat site.

The council has a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Broadwater Road, which was agreed in December 2008, and states the site is earmarked for housing, commercial and leisure, and not retail.

A council-commissioned paper by Colliers International discredits the Tesco report and reiterates the borough council’s vision for the site is achievable.

Colliers International’s director Robert Mills stated: “It is possible to design a development that complies with the SPD and is financially viable.

“It just requires a positive approach.”

He explained: “There are major inconsistencies in the G L Hearn [Tesco’s experts] Three Dragons appraisal, as well as ample evidence of systematic selectiveness of individual assumptions and of choices of which appraisal system to use for which specific purpose, in order to arrive at the foregone conclusion an SPD-compliant scheme cannot be viable.

“Every identifiable cost has been amplified to the greatest degree, valuations have been depressed, normal costs have been treated as “exceptional”.”

Commenting on the report, WGC Society chairman Shaun O’Reilly, who has seen many such documents in his role, said this was the most critical he had ever seen.

Mr O’Reilly told the WHT: “Normally consultants reports are very balanced documents, giving hope to absolutely everyone.

“This one is very clear and extremely robust in condeming Tesco’s approach.”

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