Sainsbury’s planning ‘exit strategy’ after Huntingdon West U-turn

Sainsbury's in Huntingdon

Sainsbury's in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

Planners are in talks with supermarket giant Sainsbury’s to devise an “exit strategy” after the store confirmed it would not be relocating.

After months of uncertainty, Sainsbury’s has announced that plans for a much larger store on the Huntingdon West development on the outskirts of the town will definitely not go ahead.

An announcement on the store’s website said: “We are disappointed to confirm that proposals will no longer be brought forward. The food retail market is extremely competitive and has changed considerably since our proposals in Huntingdon were first submitted in late 2010. However, we are currently bringing forward a range of improvements for customers at St Germain Walk.”

When The Hunts Post asked the store to comment on the announcement, a spokesman said: “We are working with the local council on the marketing of the Huntingdon West site. Once we are in a position to do so we will update the local community.”

Planners at Huntingdonshire District Council confirmed this week that the authority was in talks with Sainsbury’s.

“We are currently in discussions with Sainsbury’s about the most appropriate use for that area which will help inform the allocation of the site in the new Local Plan to 2036,” said a spokesman.

A meeting of the district council’s overview and scrutiny panel was held on April 14 and councillors commented on the need for an exit strategy.

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Sue Bradshaw, manager at Bid Huntingdon, said she was disappointed, but not shocked at the news.

“I don’t think it will be detrimental for the town as Sainsbury’s will remain in the town centre. Footfall in the town centre is increasing and we believe this is as a direct result of the new multi-storey car park. We have been measuring footfall and the year-on-year figures are up on the same time last year and showed a spike in May when the car park opened.

Bid Huntingdon also hopes that Churchmanor Estates, the company developing Chequers Court, will make an announcement in the next few weeks about which businesses will be taking up the two remaining spaces.

“The development is still on track, but it would be nice to know what is happening, but we understand that there is a legal process and these things take time.”