Cambridgeshire retailer Jonathan James will sell his Soham store to one of the multiples if councillors reject plans for an out-of-town supermarket which he claims will kill the high street.
Two of the big four have agreed offers to buy his 9,000sq ft Budgens store on the condition that the out-of-town proposals are rejected on May 15.
Jonathan agreed to the offers in a bid to keep much needed footfall in the town centre. “I’ve always been consistent in my message that a new supermarket belongs in the town centre,” he said. “I hope this will have a bearing on the council’s decision. The NPPF clearly states that an out-of-town retail application should fail if there’s a sequentially preferable site. The Soham Masterplan also says a new supermarket should be in the centre.”
He said his solution would keep those people who wanted a new supermarket happy, while also keeping trade in the town centre. “And I can deliver a store to the mults that’s already built and has permission to extend,” he added.
“Ultimately I want to do what’s best for Soham. I can’t sit on national bodies knowing the devastation that out-of-town supermarkets cause without doing anything about it,” Jonathan added.
In the event that East Cambridgeshire council approves the application from Harrier Developments for the out-of-town store, Jonathan’s Budgens store will continue to trade as normal, “but it will probably be forced to close eventually”.
He also lamented the fact that 414 days will have passed from the date the application was submitted until the council’s decision next week. “All of us traders in Soham have been living in limbo, and I’ve had to put my extension on hold. Something needs to be done about the length of time it takes,” he said.