Monday, October 02, 2006

ASDA submits Feethams "sketches" - Exclusive!

This afternoon ASDA contacted the Northern Echo to tell them that they had submitted "sketch proposals" to the Council as a rival to the Tesco proposal.

Remarkably, ASDA hadn't bothered to tell Council officers, and the sketches were languishing in the post room. You will all have to make up your own minds how serious this proposal in fact is.

I haven't seen the sketches, but apparently they show a similar scheme to the existing plans from Tesco, albeit with the omission of the petrol station and a repositioning of the residential area. There is no accompanying financial, engineering or architectural information. If and when this is forthcoming, Council officers will of course be happy to talk to ASDA.

The Tesco consultation should proceed. The ASDA proposal looks very similar, and the uncertainty about the future of the town centre needs to be resolved one way or the other.

Incidentally, some people's opposition to the Tesco proposal is based on their fear of the company's aggressive history - I would imagine plans from ASDA/Wallmart will also excite discussion, given that company's track record in the US.

Remember - you read it here first!


Mike Barker said...

The "Say No to Tesco in Darlington" campaign group this afternoon, when asked by the Echo to comment on the ASDA proposals, said: "We do not believe that a supermarket-led development is appropriate for this location. People are telling us that we do not need any more supermarkets in the town, that they wish to preserve the traditional market town ambience of Darlington and that we should protect our market traders and independent shops from more supermarket competition.
If Feethams is to be redeveloped it should be an imaginative scheme embracing leisure, culture and open space: a development on a human scale of which the town can be proud. This site should not be handed over for commercial exploitation by a supermarket company."

Now then, Nick, I told you three weeks ago that ASDA would be producing something!


Darlington Councillor said...

You are indeed remarkably well-informed Mike. Has the Health Food Warehouse teamed up with Wallmart? ;)

Seriously, I think the "No Campaign's comments are very helpful. The basis upon which the opposition to the Tesco scheme is founded is very likely to be applicable to an Asda on the same site. This underlines the need in my opinion for the Tesco consultation to proceed, rather than delay matters for months on what is a key town centre site.

Mike Barker said...

Couldn't agree more: let's get the consultation over, knock the whole supermarket idea on the head asap and move on with something people DO want there (assuming that's possible).

ian holme said...

Cannot help but think this consultation has missed a big opportunity.
When (as all indicators suggest) the tesco proposal is thrown out, we will still be none the wiser as to waht to do with the site.
On the std reply forms there should have been a fourth box to allow people to put forward their suggestions.
Then at least the tens of thousands of pounds of our money would not have been completely wasted.


Ian Holme

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, Ian.

I don't believe that the consultation has been a waste of money - exercises in transparent democracy never are.

It's too early for me to say what the outcome of the process will be, as we are consulting until next week. Maybe once all the consultation has been pulled together and a decision has been taken, one way or the other, I will be able to reflect on lessons for the future here.