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Colchester MP: We're at risk of encirclement by Tesco
COLCHESTER risks being “encircled” by Tesco after the supermarket giant revealed plans for a store on former Garrison land, the town’s MP claimed.
Tesco has announced it wants to build a small supermarket and car park on part of a three-acre site in Butt Road and Goojerat Road.
Colchester already has five Tesco supermarkets and Express stores, while permission was won last year for a sixth in Mersea Road.
Lib Dem MP Bob Russell said the “encirclement’’ was not in the best interest of consumers and voiced concerns independent businesses in the town and elsewhere were struggling as a result.
He claimed Morrisons, which has no presence in the town, was weeks from signing a deal with landowners Taylor Wimpey to purchase the Butt Road land, but was “gazumped” by the larger retailer.
Mr Russell said a Morrisons representative told him last year the company was close to announcing a deal.
A few months later, Mr Russell claimed, he met a senior member of Taylor Wimpey and was told Tesco had acquired the site after offering more money.
Mr Russell said: “It is my belief, although I cannot prove it, Tesco paid an enhanced price for the Butt Road site to keep Morrisons out of Colchester.”
The land already has planning permission for a food store and retail units.
Tesco is to consult on the plans before submitting a detailed planning application to Colchester Council later this year.
The store, which would create around 90 jobs for the town, is likely to open in 2013.
Louise Gosling, Tesco’s regional corporate affairs manager, said: "We are committed to investing in Colchester long-term.
“Our emerging plans for Butt Road present a positive opportunity to provide local shopping services for the immediate neighbourhood.
“As always, we followed the letter of the law when buying the land and will continue to observe strict planning practice throughout the application process."
No one from Morrisons was available to speak. Taylor Wimpey declined to comment.