Honiton misses out on new supermarket

PUBLISHED: 11:17 02 September 2015 | UPDATED: 11:17 02 September 2015

Supermarket trolley

Supermarket trolley

Archant

The revelation has been heralded as a ‘blessing in disguise’ by the town’s chamber of commerce chairman.

Honiton has missed out on a new supermarket – but the revelation has been heralded as a ‘blessing in disguise’ by the town’s chamber of commerce chairman.

Colin Wright believes the town has dodged a bullet after it was revealed that four supermarket chains were interested in land at Heathpark.

The news comes after confidential documents detailing East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) controversial relocation plans were made public.

The paperwork, which dates from January 2013 to December 2014, shows the information available to council bosses.

This comes after a judge ordered the council to release a series of documents, up to March 2013, after a Freedom of Information request by a Sidmouth resident ended up in court.

EDDC has also voluntarily released additional consultants’ reports and minutes of behind-closed-doors meetings dating up to the end of 2014.

They reveal that Asda was lined up to buy the council’s land at Honiton’s Heathpark, although there was interest from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose - as well as a separate bid from Morrisons.

However, minutes from meetings over 2014 show that Asda slashed its bid from an initial offer of around £5million to £3.1million by the end of 2014. As a result of this, the council announced in November 2014 that the sale of the site was no longer viable.

And Mr Wright said that another supermarket ‘that end of town’ would only increase the pressure on Honiton’s high street.

Mr Wright said: “Although our main interest is to ensure business in the town centre, we are indebted to Lidl and Tesco, who have been the main sponsor of the Christmas lights in Honiton in recent years.”

Mr Wright added that while a new supermarket would only offer ‘around 40 jobs’, hundreds would arise from EDDC’s relocation to Honiton.

And he said that the presence of two other supermarkets at Heathpark – Aldi and Lidl – would be enough to raise alarms for rival chains.

He added: “I think a new supermarket in Heathpark would have been another nail in the coffin.

“I think this has been a blessing in disguise.”

What are your views? Send them to letters.midweek@archant.co.uk


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