Green light for Waitrose expansion

A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to extend Waitrose s car park Sidmouth store and undertake major road alterations, has been given the green light by East Devon District Council.

A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to extend Waitrose's car park Sidmouth store and undertake major road alterations, has been given the green light by East Devon District Council.

Approval was given under delegated powers by the head of planning and countryside services with the chairman and vice-chairman of EDDC's development control committee.

Store manager Mark Shepherd said he hoped work on expansion, which will provide more than 50 extra parking spaces and create new jobs, would start in January 2009.

He expects work to take 11 months and says his "challenge" is to trade while undertaking the build and keeping a good relationship with neighbours.

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He exclusively told the Herald: "We drew 12 plans up and have spent two years working on trying to make sure we came up with something that compliments Sidmouth as a town and that would fit in with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage site."

The company, part of John Lewis Partnership, is in the process of buying more land, which is in the AONB, to move the access off the A3052.

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"The advantage of the car park is it will remove the poor access and make the new access/egress on a single level," said Mr Shepherd, who said with an extra 7,000 square feet of shopping space, 1,700 new products will be available, including more fresh chilled foods, fruit and vegetables.

"There will be minimal visual impact of the store. It was important to do our research first and get it in keeping with the area."

He said he had received no complaints about the proposed extension, which should not affect plans to build 150 new homes, 99 of them affordable, on council-owned land at Stowford Rise - recently given the green light by its executive.

Mr Shepherd had three objectives: to address the car park problems, try to provide a store that enabled him to offer a larger range of items and improve storage/office amenities for staff.

"It was all put in the melting pot. We wanted to make sure we didn't damage the area we trade in, we have got to be sensitive to the environment around us.

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