Time runs out for Tesco to appeal Welwyn Garden City planning decision
PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 August 2012
THE Tesco-owned Broadwater Road site in Welwyn Garden City looks set to remain derelict for the foreseeable future.
The period Tesco had to appeal Welwyn Hatfield Council’s decision to reject its application to build a huge store on the site has now elapsed and the firm said it has “gone back to the drawing board”.
And, it appears the company has no imminent plans to sell up.
Asked directly if Tesco would now look to offload the site John Timothy, the firm’s corporate affairs manager, said: “We’re looking at all our options for the site before we take a decision about how best to move forward.”
One of those options, according to Shaun O’Reilly, chairman of the Welwyn Garden City Society, may be axing the pursuit of larger retail parks in favour of smaller stores.
If that were the case it could mean the Broadwater Road site would no longer fit with the firm’s corporate strategy.
Mr O’Reilly said the Society had met Tesco bosses to discuss the future of the site.
Hinting that he believed Tesco would be keen to get the costly site off its books, he told the WHT: “Clearly, the company has a number of options but it was clear to us that the site now represented a large on-going cost to its business that it wished to see curtailed.
“As you would expect, the company takes a hard-nosed commercial approach to these matters.”
But the firm gave nothing away in its latest official statement on the issue.
A Tesco spokesman said: “As we said back in January, there is no plan B for Broadwater Road.
“We are looking at alternative options for the site but given its size and complexity, it will take time to work these up.”
Mr O’Reilly insisted his and the Welwyn Garden City Society’s objection to the original failed bid did not represent an “anti-Tesco” sentiment.
He added: “On the contrary, as the company has such a large presence on Shire Park, the Society hopes that the business will thrive.
“However, particularly as it is so very local to us all, the Society said that it hoped that the company would work closely with all the people it affects so directly as its strategies change.”
And Mr O’Reilly pledged to “work with both Tesco plc on the future of the site or, indeed, any other company that sought to acquire, or redevelop it”.
Welwyn Hatfield Council leader John Dean said the area would be ripe for much-needed housing development in the borough.
“We will have to wait for Tesco’s intention but a housing development would be the obvious way forward,” he said.
He added: “Considering the shortage of housing it would be difficult to object to an application.”
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