Waitrose no longer moving to Huntingdon Chequers Court development
09:00 25 June 2014
A supermarket will no longer be part of the redeveloped Chequers Court, in Huntingdon, after Waitrose pulled out of the move.
The firm had been expected to leave St Benedict’s Court and take up a large unit due to be built on the site of the former tax office.
Planning permission to demolish the old eyesore building and replace it with a supermarket, seven shops, a restaurant and two kiosks at Chequers Court was granted in 2012.
But Waitrose has withdrawn its interest and site owner Manormaker GP Ltd has had to change its plans for the prominent town centre premises.
A spokesman for the supermarket confirmed: “We explored the idea of relocating our Huntingdon branch into the Chequers Court scheme.
“However, this did not prove a viable option.
“We have no further plans at this time but we have recently extended the lease on our existing site.”
Now, instead of having one large store in the redeveloped Chequers Court, the intention is to divide it into three, with mezzanine floors.
The change will increase the floorspace by 1,030 square metres to nearly 5,835 square metres.
A report submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council by property consultant CBRE, seeking permission to amend the Chequers Court plans, said: “Since the consent of the scheme, the market has changed and Unit 1 (the large unit at the centre of the scheme) is not considered optimum for current retailer demands.
“Therefore, it has been decided to progress with these revised proposals for the unit to be sub-divided, and mezzanines added, which are more suitable for modern retailers.
“Advanced discussions are currently under way with prospective tenants for these units.”
Speaking for the developers, Howard White said the revised scheme and new design would “produce an improved arrangement for the town centre as a whole”.
Discussions are under way with potential tenants for the units but their identities have not been revealed.
“The response we have had from retailers has been very encouraging indeed,” said Mr White.
“With the demolition works now almost complete, save for the removal of some concrete slabs, we are working very hard on delivering the new scheme.
“Fresh hoarding will shortly be erected and construction is expected to start later this year.
“The last vacant shop in Chequers Court is also under offer and very shortly the centre will once again be 100 per cent let.”
Sainsbury’s plans to move to a new store off Huntingdon West Link Road. Its existing premises is due to be sub-divided into three units.