PLANS for a large Tesco Extra store near Bicester Village got the go-ahead last night, Thursday.
Members of the Cherwell District Council (CDC) planning committee approved the plans unanimously despite a plea from the chief financial officer of Sainsbury’s, John Rogers, who said the scheme would ‘fundamentally undermine’ the success of Bicester’s new town centre.
The scheme is linked to a new expansion of Bicester Village and a major investment in congestion-busting road improvements.
Sainsbury’s, which joined CDC in a partnership to deliver the new town centre, had warned it may not fit out its supermarket if Tesco got the green light.
But committee members went ahead with their decision despite the warnings, saying Bicester had capacity to support both supermarkets. Local traders, speaking as members of the Bicester Town Centre Group, had joined Sainsbury’s in objecting to the plans.
In a letter to the Review, they said: “Times are very challenging for many town centre traders and the completion of the ongoing redevelopment promises to bring a much-needed influx of customers, which can only benefit traders currently struggling.
“We are therefore extremely concerned that planners at Cherwell are threatening this much-needed boost by recommending approval of the Tesco and Bicester Village applications.
“Yes, the congestion around Bicester Village needs to be addressed. That is Bicester Village’s problem to resolve.
“Bicester Village has continually expanded and not made any significant effort to resolve the problems it generates and would benefit them to address.”
But county councillor Charles Shouler, who urged the committee to approve the Tesco plans, said proposed investment in the roads around Bicester Village was a “once in a lifetime opportunity to solve the problems” regarding congestion.
Speaking in favour of the Tesco plan, Councillor Lawrie Stratford said he could understand the objections from some traders, but noted the town chamber of commerce had not raised any complaints.
He added: “This will be a tremendous improvement all round.
“The biggest single improvement will be traffic.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We are obviously disappointed and will now be reviewing all our options.”