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Supermarket giant Waitrose could come to Torrington

By NDJNicole  |  Posted: April 05, 2013

  • Waitrose has expressed an interest in opening a store on land next to Sydney House car park

  • Waitrose has expressed an interest in opening a store on land next to Sydney House car park

  • Waitrose opened a store in Holsworthy a couple of years ago

  • Waitrose opened a store in Holsworthy a couple of years ago

Comments (7)

SUPERMARKET giant Waitrose has expressed an interest in coming to Torrington.

Torrington Town Council was told last night that Waitrose has made an approach to Torridge District Council.

The company, which has stores in Holsworthy and Okehampton, has not yet submitted a formal planning application.

It's understood the site being considered is privately owned land next to Sydney House car park.

The proposal, which is understood to be for a 14,000sq metre store, could create up to 130 jobs in the town.

The supermarket company has contacted Torridge District Council to ask about getting access to the site through the council-owned car park.

A discussion about the car park had been scheduled to be heard behind closed doors but town councillors made the decision to move it to the public part of the meeting.

Town councillors only heard the news this week and questioned whether the town needed another supermarket.

Mayor of Torrington Margaret Brown said: “We have taken it up with Torridge and expressed our disappointment at being informed at this late date.

"It could have an effect on trading days we have in the town. We’re very angry about it as ward members.”

Councillor Geoff Lee said: “It’s an honourable idea but treat it with great caution.”

Councillor Mel Bushell, who was co-opted onto Torrington Town Council last night, said: “It might be worth speaking to Holsworthy to see if Waitrose has brought any benefits to the town. I can see people going out of their way to go to a Waitrose. It’s like the Harrods of supermarkets.”

Councillor Sue Mills said she was surprised to hear Waitrose had approached Torridge: “I hadn’t got a clue. I was one of the ones who didn’t agree to Lidl. I just think it’s wrong the way it has gone about.”

Councillor Catherine Simmons said she felt the supermarket should be situated in the town centre.

She said: “I’ve long held that we should have a supermarket in the town but I feel it’s in the wrong place. It should be in the town centre.

"I think it should be on South Street so it is part of the town centre and can create footfall.

"I think the most important thing is to keep the town vibrant but I’m not sure this will do that. If it was right in the town centre I would be all for it.”

Councillor John Kelly said members of the public had approached him over the years to ask why an application for Tesco in Torrington was turned down and said he would like to see the Waitrose proposal put forward.

He said: “Many years ago we had the option to build a supermarket. We did a vote and it was turned town. Since then people have come to me by the score to ask why.

"I think it will do the town a world of good but there is always the concern it will do what Tesco has in Barnstaple and build a second store. I would love to see it go forward.”

Councillor Andy Boyd questioned whether there was a need for three supermarkets in the town.

He said: "I am concerned that they’re looking at a building something three times the size of Lidl. I think that’s quite a large store to have in the town.

“I have spoken to a few traders. There were around 50/50 for and against.

"There needs to be a survey of need to convince us. Is there a need for three supermarkets in the town. We need an impact survey on the town traders, what will happen in five years time? We have a couple of bakers and butchers, will they still be there? Initially we were told about 130 jobs, that’s fairly standard for a new store.

"I was very upset this was held back from us."

Town Clerk Michael Tighe said: “Your town will be changed forever”

In a statement this afternoon Jenny Wallace, Torridge District Council's Head of Paid Service, said: "Within the last two weeks the council has had initial discussions concerning a proposed scheme to build on privately-owned land adjacent to the Sydney House car park in Great Torrington.

"As the only way in would be through the council-owned car park, the developer approached us to discuss potential access options.

"The Town Council were informed of these discussions at the earliest practical opportunity, mindful of the commercial sensitivities involved."

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7 comments

  • Millstreet  |  July 02 2013, 5:59PM

    Don't mean to sound cynical, but what is the guarantee the money will be spent in the town on youth projects etc? Bit of an empty promise in my opinion / experience. There are already local growers selling at local shops, what will happen to these when people start going to Waitrise instead? A major issue you missed was the site if the proposed supermarket ...in a valley of great beauty and varied wildlife ...not only would it be an eyesore but how will the floodlights and delivery noises effect the local ecology? Great Torrington is already a 'hub', keep the town as the hub not a supermarket as the hub! Get real, a supermarket will change the town, maybe that's what you want? But driving small shops and suppliers and choice out in favour of one supermarket is sad. It is the standardisation of towns and the loss of independent shops. As a resident of the town, there is another issue of traffic with deliveries and parking going through the same gateway. South street struggles with lorries already, it is not designed for that amount of deliveries and increase in cars. Waitrose. Oppose.

    Rate   3
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  • JenSpeaks  |  July 02 2013, 1:44PM

    A "no brainer"! 130 jobs, potentially massive increase in footfall in the Town Centre area can only bring potential benefits to local shops and services! This is a status supermarket that people will willingly travel too, the type of people that have the disposable income to spend on more than just a weekly supermarket shop... Notwithstanding the potential Section 106 development money - Torrington Town Council should be advocating for this proposal, lobbying Torridge District Council to ensure this is spent on vital projects in the Town ,eg, youth centre, improved sports facilities (I could go on as the list of need is endless). This is progress not a backwards step. This can only revive fortunes and make the Town the thriving hub it should be. Waitrose is well known and thought of for its community spirit, support for local groups and supporting local food growers and providers - after all, at its heart, it is part of the cooperative movement unlike many of the other supermarket chains I could mention..

    Rate   -3
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  • Millstreet  |  April 08 2013, 5:02PM

    The proposed site is one of the nicest parts of the town, it has beautiful views and is a haven for wildlife. Would the back of a supermarket appreciate this view? I feel it will spoil a picturesque Castle Hill. Why not put the supermarket in an unused building, there's plenty in town. The council might consider attracting more shoppers by encouraging the pannier market into something actually worth visiting. There are enough local traders and suppliers for what Torrington needs, lets not give our hard earned cash to large chain ...revamp what we already have and some young blood into the market! ...I suggest turning the proposed site into allotments to grow produce to be sold locally! Or giving someting back and making it a play area. Go on Torrington, do something original and in keeping the the town's history. Tell Waitrose we don't need them! Revamp and celebrate what we have.

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  • Millstreet  |  April 08 2013, 5:00PM

    The proposed site is one of the nicest parts of the town, it has beautiful views and is a haven for wildlife. Would the back of a supermarket appreciate this view? I feel it will spoil a picturesque Castle Hill. Why not put the supermarket in an unused building, there's plenty in town. The council might consider attracting more shoppers by encouraging the pannier market into something actually worth visiting. There are enough local traders and suppliers for what Torrington needs, lets not give our hard earned cash to large chain ...revamp what we already have and some young blood into the market! ...I suggest turning the proposed site into allotments to grow produce to be sold locally! Or giving someting back and making it a play area. Go on Torrington, do something original and in keeping the the town's history. Tell Waitrose we don't need them! Revamp and celebrate what we have.

    Rate   2
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  • Sue200  |  April 07 2013, 8:28AM

    There are places that would be delighted if Waitrose wanted to open a store in their town. What is wrong with these people! Waitrose will bring people into Torrington which will also be good for the local economy. Why can councils be so backward looking at times?

    Rate   -2
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  • veryconfused  |  April 05 2013, 7:22PM

    I am surprised and saddened that Torrington councillors feel threatened by a national chain moving into their town. I would have thought that a store like Waitrose would have encouraged more shoppers from surrounding towns (Barnstaple, Bideford) to go to Torrington and therefore enhance the town and bring more shoppers in.

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  • torringtonloc  |  April 05 2013, 5:09PM

    Creating more jobs, increasing local economy, and improving services in Great Torrington is an important thing. The views of the councillors are unfounded with regards to damaging local economy, take Lidl for example, there was a flurry of complaints against the decision to be located in Torrington, with many complaining it would ruin local trade, yet those that complained are the same individuals found shopping in there. Since Lidl's launch, trade within Torrington has increased, and has also helped draw upon a wider set of shoppers. Allowing Waitrose to open a store in Torrington will be beneficial, although not necessarily the "Harrods" of supermarkets, it does cater for shoppers looking for food at a different price bracket, which itself will be beneficial for the local economy. Torrington is a great town, however it suffers from a local community that is clouded with fears of expansion; such a closed-minded perspective will only drive down the economy and local trade, let's embrace change rather than fear it.

    Rate   9
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