Tesco delays plans for a bigger Caister store

WELL-advanced plans for a �1m village hall were thrown into uncertainty this week after Tesco said it was delaying a scheme to replace a seaside supermarket with a larger one.

Villagers at Caister said this week they had no way of knowing whether it was a final action in a long running saga stretching back seven years or simply a postponement.

Parish council chairman Tony Overill said rumour and speculation were rife in the village with no clear feedback from Tesco and conflicting reports from locals working at the store who said the only plans were to refresh what was already there.

Under the scheme, welcomed locally, the existing store would be demolished to make way for a new one twice the size on a 'flipped' footprint which would take in parish council land.

Negotiations for a new village hall to replace the derelict youth and community centre were signed off in October and user groups fed into other over-subscribed halls squeezing the parish council out of its own meeting rooms such was the pressure on space.

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Mr Overill said the delay was having a detrimental effect on village life with the old centre now shut and a supermarket which was too small for a busy summer resort.

'We are just rolling with the punches,' he said. 'What we really want is a clear and concise statement from Tesco. Unfortunately they play their cards very close to their chest. We have had conflicting reports and cannot seem to get anything firm out of anybody.

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'They wanted some of the parish council's land because they wanted to swing the store round 90 degrees and in return they were going to build a new village hall.

'Now we do not know whether it has been cancelled altogether. The community centre is derelict and we have had all the copper piping professionally stripped out. We cannot go back there.'

John Myatt, who headed up the parish council sub committee, said: 'I feel we have been rather badly treated by Tesco in this matter.

'We have written directly to the chairman but just got a bland reply. It is not so much the decision but the fact they have not told us.'

He said the scheme was unusual in that it was supported by local people because of the spin-off amenity.

But if Tesco turned its back on the scheme the village faced being left in a worse position with no new hall and a beyond-repair old one, he added.

Louise Gosling, Tesco corporate affairs manager, said: 'Having reviewed our plans for Caister and as a result of lengthy internal discussions, we have made the difficult decision to delay the planning application for the store extension. We regret that this decision will disappoint many local people, who have been very supportive of our plans to date. Nevertheless, we remain committed to our customers in Caister and hope to review this decision in the future.'

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