Tesco hits back at Ottery campaign

PUBLISHED: 14:37 08 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:27 18 June 2010

TESCO has hit back at a campaign against its plans to build a store in Ottery.

TESCO has hit back at a campaign against its plans to build a store in Ottery.

The supermarket giant said Sustainable Ottery (SO) protesters had "no grounds and no real alternative" to match their negativity towards its plans for a 10,000 sq ft store.

A spokeswoman said the proposed store will regenerate Ottery and "make the most" of the derelict factory site, adding: "Sustainable Ottery are saying no to these things, but we have not heard what they are proposing? Do they have a better development and who and where will the money come from?

"What real alternative do they have? Ottery staying as it is and the site staying abandoned and derelict? Is that really what the majority of people want?"

Helen Collinson, a member of SO's Factory Future Group (FF), which was set up more than a year ago, said "considerable progress" had been made in developing the site for "the benefit of the community, rather than running a negative anti-supermarket campaign."

She said: "Our message to Tesco is that we are as keen as anyone else in Ottery to see the derelict factory site developed, as demonstrated by the efforts we have made."

Mrs Collinson admitted developing the site is not something SO could do on its own and would need to team up with other community groups to "access huge resources and work with much bigger players" to realise its vision.

Last year, Wessex Community Assets helped the group assess the feasibility of various ideas, estimating the cost of buying and developing the site would be £9.3 million. FF has also approached both the district and county council over a possible re-development.

Mrs Collinson added the group has sought advice from reinvestment and community property trusts who buy similar sites as "community assets" and explored how money could be raised for such a project.

Ideas for the site have included a micro hydro-electric plant which would power 44 homes, affordable housing and a museum with restaurant and shop.

Mrs Collinson said: "We know that the majority of residents in Ottery are upset by the steady deterioration and dilapidation of this site and want to see something done with it, but that does not mean that local residents want to see it turned into a Tesco. A survey we have carried out indicates a huge majority are against such plans."

"Developing the factory site should not be at the expense of the rest of the town - and our fear is that a Tesco convenience store would be just that.

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