EAST Riding of Yorkshire Council is in talks with Network Rail to buy land behind Hilderthorpe Coach Park, allowing Tesco to move to a new superstore on the site.
A public hearing into the Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP) held at the Spa this week heard that the council is looking to buy the strip of land behind the coach park - so that Tesco can move to a new, purpose built superstore with possible multi-storey car park - which will form part of the AAP’s flagship new shopping district, the Burlington Parade.
The AAP document is currently undergoing public scrutiny from independent inspector Sian Worden in a week long hearing at the Spa.
Ms Worden heard from Tesco representative Michelle Bath who said that a letter from East Riding head of Planning and Economic Regeneration, Alan Menzies, dated October 17, confirmed the council was close to an agreement with Network Rail on the purchase of the site.
However, Ms Bath told the hearing that Tesco still considered that the AAP document had issues with flexibility – particularly with regard to a backup plan for re-development of the existing Tesco store if the move to the coach park failed to materialise.
David Elvin QC, speaking on behalf of East Riding Council, said that the AAP was “not a plan to protect Tesco’s commercial interest, but a matter to work with them in the public interest”.
John Lister, head of Regeneration in Bridlington, confirmed that talks with Network Rail had been “positive”, and that the council regeneration team had “cabinet approval to acquire land to improve the prospects of the AAP”.
There was no mention from the council as to any other plans they had for the land if a deal could not be done with Tesco.
Barry Guildford, speaking as an objector to the plan, questioned the council’s decision to only negotiate with Tesco over the new site.
Along with Mr Guildford, Bridlington Town Councillor Michael Charlesworth and former East Riding of Yorkshire councillor, Geoff Pickering, asked the council where they planned to site a new coach park – highlighting the importance of provision for visiting coaches to the town’s tourist trade.
In a previous written response to objectors, the council had stated they would site the new coach park “in the town centre or close by”, but those at the meeting pointed out that there was no new area laid out within the town centre boundary in the AAP document.
John Lister told the hearing that the council had considered a number of new sites for a coach park which would all fall outside of the town centre, including the possibility of incorporating coach provision at the current Park and Ride site and improving dropping off points in the town.
At the public hearing, which began on Monday and is expected to continue until tomorrow, Friday December 9, inspector Sian Worden will assess the soundness of the AAP document before producing a final report in the new year.
The AAP document sets out a vision for town centre regeneration including an overhaul of the Railway Station/Hilderthorpe Road area into a new shopping district known as the Burlington Parade, the remodelling of the harbour top and introduction of a marina, and the transformation of the Gypsey Race into an attractive walkway.
The hearing continues. Read next week’s Free Press for a report of the final days of the hearing.