Martello development at Walton will go ahead despite Tesco pulling out of store plans
- Credit: Su Anderson
A development at a former caravan park will still go ahead despite Tesco pulling out of planned supermarket on the site.
The Martello Caravan Park, in Kirby Road, Walton, closed at the end of 2014 and is set to be redeveloped with 250 homes, a care home, GP surgery, pub with hotel rooms and fast food restaurant.
Planning permission had already been granted for a supermarket and petrol station on the site, but its future is unclear after Tesco announced on Thursday that Walton was one of 49 planned stores nationally that would no longer be going ahead in light of poor sales figures.
Work clearing the site has already been started by Martello Land and Properties Ltd, which is developing the overall masterplan, ahead of installing infrastructure such as access roads.
Stephen Sibley, managing director of the developers, said the announcement by Tesco had come as much of a shock to him as to the wider public, but said it would not be a barrier to redevelopment of the site.
He said: “I was talking to Tesco earlier in the week about the programme for the road construction and there was no indication at that time Walton was going to be axed.
“But we have a contract to continue and we will be. From our perspective it is business as usual, it is not just about Tesco.
“I suspect more news will follow as to their plans for the site as an alternative, and we just have to wait and see how matters pan out over the next few weeks.
“They bought the site and need to recoup their investment, so I do anticipate something will happen on it fairly quickly. I don’t think we will see the site mothballed.
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“I don’t rule out the possibility of one of the other major retailers buying it off of them. It’s a great location and as Tesco demonstrated with its planning application there’s a recognised need for the retail floor space.
“After every rain storm there comes the sunshine.”
Contracts have already been exchanged with a housing developer for the 250 homes, and Mr Sibley said he understood planning applications for the care home and surgery were progressing well with Tendring District Council.
He added: “We will see a step change in Walton’s fortunes. If nothing else with 250 new homes all of the people coming to live in the town will be doing their shopping and socialising, and I think it will be a huge boost for the local economy.”
Carlo Guglielmi, councillor for planning at Tendring District Council, speaking about both Walton and Manningtree Tesco sites, said: “The council would welcome alternative retail proposals in an attempt to move on and any approaches about alternative uses would be welcomed.”