What will happen to regeneration in Bridlington now that Tesco have announced they will not be moving to a bigger new store?
That is the question being asked by residents after the supermarket giant confirmed it will continue at its Station Approach location.
The move to the coach park on Hilderthorpe Road formed part of the Area Action Plan’s (AAP) Burlington Parade scheme, a mix of new retail and leisure space, residential property, a public park alongside the Gypsey Race, a town square around Bridge Street and a ‘station plaza’ with retail and new transport links outside Bridlington Railway Station – which would have all linked the area between the new store and the existing town centre.
Development planned at the top of Bridlington Harbour was removed by a planning inspector after a protracted public inquiry last year. This development, along with the existing town centre and the new shopping district, were described as ‘anchor points’ by the council, to attract and maintain visitors to Bridlington.
An East Riding Council spokesman said other companies would still be approached about moving on to the site, as retail studies carried out on behalf of the council say that 30,000 sq ft of “convenience retail space” is needed within Bridlington town centre.
The council had also planned to buy a strip of land at the back of the coach park, owned by Network Rail, to sell the entire block to Tesco.
Former Bridlington South East Riding Coun Geoff Pickering said he cannot see how the plan can progress from here.
“If Tesco is staying put it means the authority now has to compulsorily purchase the Tesco site and bring in another anchor store and you can imagine what the legal fees would be; that’s not going to happen.
“Or they are stymied, because the whole plan was based on the development of one bit and the inspector took out the harbour top, so what they are left with is a footpath,” he said.
“I can’t see a Plan B. Why would another supermarket want to open right next to Tesco? The council should have been helping businesses, lowering rates, instead of grandiose plans that have seen Hilderthorpe Road decay. Someone needs to be held to account.”
Bridlington North Coun John Wilkinson said he believes Tesco’s decision has slowed down the project, but not adversely affected the outcome.
He said: “Tesco has badly let down the people of Bridlington but the AAP is a flexible document and can easily accommodate this change.”
Questions about how much public money has already been spent on the deal have also been raised.
Andrew Allison, Hull-based national grassroots co-ordinator of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It needs a full inquiry. All these millions of pounds that have been spent – the £2m on consultancy fees we know about and it keeps adding up – land acquisition, demolition costs, public exhibitions and staffing costs. The incompetence is just breathtaking.”
A council spokesman confirmed much of the money spent on plans for the Tesco site had not been paid for by the council, and that Tesco’s architects and agents had “spent much time on concept plans for the site and surrounding area”.
In a statement, East Riding of Yorkshire Council said it was confident the plan can still press ahead. The statement said: “The council respects the current (Tesco) decision, and will continue to progress the developments that Bridlington Area Action Plan provides for, initially, with the consultation on the design guidance, the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which will run from April 22 to June 2 so that the council can listen to public opinion on quality of design, and develop deliverable plans for the town.
“Public opinion from the SPD consultation may help to shape the future approach.”