Ottery supermarket warning from Seaton mayor

THE MAYOR of Seaton has warned her Ottery counterparts to seek the views of every household over the town s pending supermarket battle, or face being ignored by planning chiefs.

THE MAYOR of Seaton has warned her Ottery counterparts to "seek the views of every household" over the town's pending supermarket battle, or face being "ignored" by planning chiefs.

Sandra Semple this week saw East Devon District Council controversially give Tesco the go-ahead to build a new store in Seaton, turning down a bid from Sainsbury's in the process.

She said Seaton Town Council, its elected ward members and the majority of the public wanted a Sainsbury's.

Both supermarket giants have been poised to hand in planning applications for Ottery stores since the beginning of the year, and Mrs Semple feels this week's drama could have ramifications for the town.

"I think it will have a big bearing on Ottery," she said, claiming EDDC had ignored what was "right for the people of the town." "That's not to say they will favour Tesco," she added.

"Ottery should be very careful to ensure that EDDC know exactly what their views are, my advice to the mayor would be to consult every home in the town, asking them for their preference.

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"As a town council we gauged public opinion the best we could but weren't listened to.

"95 per cent of people polled in Seaton preferred Sainsbury's, that wasn't the entire town, just people who responded and went to public consultations.

"They (EDDC) would not believe us that Sainsbury's was what the town wanted.

"In retrospect, polling the whole town would have been a good idea, not just people who came to exhibitions.

"Sainsbury's didn't stand a chance- one of the main planks was it didn't own the land and couldn't do that what it wanted with it."

In Ottery, Tesco owns part of the town's vacant factory site, while Sainsbury's has not yet bought the Hind Street land it has targeted. The EDDC owned Hind Street car park is a crucial part of Sainsbury's plans.

Once long-awaited plans are finally submitted, EDDC development management committee members will have to decide between the regeneration of Ottery's derelict factory or a town centre supermarket with the promise of free parking. It is unlikely both will be given the go-ahead.

Confusion surrounds when both applications will be handed in. An Axminster-based newspaper this week wrongly told its readers the Tesco application was "officially handed in" on Monday.

A Tesco spokeswoman said yesterday the Herald had been the only newspaper she had spoken to about Ottery, and was unaware where this claim had come from.

The Herald revealed last month that planning consultants, acting on behalf of Churchill Properties and Tesco, had targeted this week to hand in plans. However, the spokeswoman would only say they will be revealed in the "autumn".

Sainsbury's are also keeping tight lipped this week, revealing only that the firm is "hopeful" a planning application for it will be submitted "before the end of the year".