Tesco confirms factory purchase

TESCO has confirmed it has bought part of Ottery's vacant factory site. Land Registry records show the supermarket chain forked out nearly £3 million for what appears to be the 1950s buildings of the property in February this year

TESCO has confirmed it has bought part of Ottery's vacant factory site.

Land Registry records show the supermarket chain forked out nearly £3 million for what appears to be the '1950s buildings' of the property in February this year.

Tesco Stores Limited is listed as the registered owner and proprietor of "land and buildings on the north side of Mill Street", which plans suggest is around two thirds of the properties and excludes both listed buildings.

The factory has remained vacant since November 2004 and remained a topic of intense debate and intrigue in the town.

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Proposals for the site must be subject to a community consultation before any planning application can go through East Devon County Council's rigorous development control process.

A spokesperson for Tesco confirmed it does own the site but no plans would be submitted for it until a public consultation has been carried out.

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She added: "Nothing is on the table yet, as a company we promise to consult and give the public a chance to give their opinions on what we are proposing."

Viv Abbott, Chairman of Ottery's Chamber of Commerce, said she was incredibly disappointed by the news.

She said: "It will be a black day when they come into town. You can appreciate why people may want a supermarket but you only need t look up and down the country to see their affects on small market towns such as Ottery.

The butchers and bakers struggle and close down it's a chain reaction and I can see it happening here.

Despite the credit crunch we are still vibrant, with quality service and products- better than supermarkets, smaller shops have the versatility to do that.

I'm rather surprised they want the land, especially with recent flooding. It will devastate Ottey in time, in small towns when you lose things you don't get them back and I fear that is what will happen.

They have supermarkets in Honiton and Exeter and land in Seaton and it is just greed."

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: "There is a long history to this complex site, which is partly in a flood plain and includes a large listed building that is in need of expensive repairs and restoration.

"We have been in periodic talks with Churchill Properties, who staged a public exhibition in Ottery in 2005, putting forward ideas for a mixed development including a supermarket, library and housing.

"We were aware that Churchill were looking for a supermarket partner in this project, but they have not so far approached us with news that Tesco or anyone else has bought into the development.

"Any fresh proposals for this site will need to be the subject of community consultation before any planning application is submitted and any firm proposals will then be subject to the normal rigorous development control process."

TO DOWNLOAD an image of Tescos plans and an extrac from the Land registry CLICK HERE

The coordinator of Factory Future, a sub-group of Sustainable Ottery, Phil Foggitt expressed shock that the group have found out about the purchase nine and a half months ago. He added: "There are very strong feelings in the town about supermarkets and this news will not go down well with the majority of Ottregians. In particular, FF members are angry that the community has been left completely in the dark over the future of the factory site. This news confirms our worst fears"

"In March, Sustainable Ottery held very well attended public meeting to address the options available to the community for use of the site. Speakers from High Bickington Property Trust and Wessex Reinvestment Trust illustrated how community ownership of the site could benefit the town. In particular, the real potential to develop a hydro-power facility on the site was confirmed."

Mr Foggitt added that he met with Kate Little, Head of Planning at EDDC to discuss the future of the site. He claims no mention of Tesco was made at that meeting although Ms Little expressed her support for locating a supermarket at the site.

Another FF member Helen Collinson expressed her dismay at the news. "The last thing Ottery needs is Tesco. There is no shortage of evidence showing how this company damages communities. Tesco is ruthlessly motivated by profit and locating a supermarket on the edge of town will be the death knell for many of the town's shops."

Factory Future members will meet later this month to discuss the situation and consider their options. Local residents supportive of FF are invited to contact Mr Foggitt on 01404 851048 or at phil@foggitt.freeserve.co.uk.

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