A tale of two supermarkets

Bicester town centre development.Steelwork for Sainsburys supermarket going up.'120412M-C204
Bicester town centre development.Steelwork for Sainsburys supermarket going up.'120412M-C204

FRESH concerns have been raised by Sainsbury’s over plans to create a new Tesco store close to Bicester Village.

The supermarket, which is one of the two main partners in the Bicester town centre redevelopment, says the new Tesco Extra store could undermine the viability of the scheme.

Bicester Village would also open 30 new shops under plans linked to the Tesco proposals.

Sainsbury’s has now put forward its own suggestions for the Bicester Village expansion, which would see the popular shopping destination grow towards the town centre.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “The success of the Bicester town centre redevelopment is wholly based on encouraging and supporting retail expansion in the town centre.”

He said the view was supported by retail studies conducted by Cherwell District Council.

“If approved, the Tesco and Bicester Village applications will therefore result in a reduction in town centre footfall.

“This reduction would directly affect the viability of the town centre redevelopment and impact on existing traders,” added the spokesman.

“We have therefore had no alternative but to object to these retail proposals, which are contrary to the district council’s longstanding encouragement of the Bicester town centre redevelopment,” he said.

But a Bicester Village spokesman said: “Bicester Village has replied in detail to all of the objections submitted at the very last minute by Sainsbury’s.

“Our own proposals have been extensively researched over a period of years and we firmly believe that they provide the sustainable growth necessary for an expanding town along with critical improvements to the Bicester road infrastructure.”

Planning applications for the Tesco and Bicester Village expansions were due to be decided on Thursday last week, but decisions were postponed to give councillors more time to digest new information sent in by Sainsbury’s representatives.

Regarding the Bicester Village proposal, the Sainsbury’s spokesman added: “We have submitted an alternative masterplan to the council showing how Bicester Village could be expanded towards the town centre.

“This would encourage greater linkages with the town centre and Bicester Town station, benefiting existing and future traders in the town centre.”

A Bicester Village spokesman said: “The alternative site proposed by Sainsbury’s for the Bicester Village extension, along with suggested access arrangements, is totally impractical and ill conceived.

“In reality it simply would not work.”