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Yeovil shopping centre supermarket bid focus of attack

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

UBS wants to extend Yeovil's Quedam Shopping Centre to include the Vincent Car Centre site in Market Street

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A planning consultant has criticised proposals by the owners of Yeovil’s Quedam Shopping Centre to build a supermarket in the town centre.

Quedam owners UBS Global Asset Management (UK) Limited are planning a multi-million pound extension of the shopping centre into the Vincent Car Centre site, on Market Street.

The global financial services firm, which formally objected to Yeovil Town Football Club’s supermarket plans at Huish Park, hopes it will attract a major supermarket chain and bigger high street shops to the town.

But the Glovers’ planning consultant Mark Wood, of Gloucester-based company MWA, slammed the plans which he claimed took a long time to bring forward.

He said he will demonstrate how the Vincent Car Centre site is “not suitable for the type and scale of development proposed at Huish Park”.

UBS has previously claimed its own redevelopment scheme would be made unviable if the Huish Park store goes ahead. But Mr Wood believes the town centre site is not big enough to meet the needs of large food store operators.

Speaking to the Western Gazette, Mr Wood said: “We believe the site referred to is incapable of accommodating a food store of the size required to add significantly to the choice of shopping facilities serving Yeovil and to meet the needs of retailers.

“In particular, a much smaller store, duplicating for example provision within Marks & Spencer, would fail to provide adequate competition and increase choice.

“The difficulties relate to the limited size of the site, the constrained nature of the road network including achieving acceptable ingress and egress without significant delay, achieving integration with the existing centre, producing an acceptable level of car parking for customers and meeting the operational needs of the retailer in terms of deliveries and the distribution of floorspace within any building.”

Mr Wood claimed Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have both examined, and rejected, the Vincent Car Centre site.

However, the supermarket chains distanced themselves from the claim.

A Waitrose spokesman said the firm was not looking at opening a store in the town so had not considered any sites.

He added: “While we certainly wouldn’t rule out exploring opportunities in the future, we have no plans to open a store in Yeovil at this time and are therefore not involved with this scheme.”

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said the company had neither accepted nor rejected a site in the town. She added: “We are looking at opportunities to bring the Sainsbury’s to Yeovil but there are no confirmed plans at present.”

Mr Wood plans to submit a detailed response to UBS’s objection letter, submitted on its behalf by London-based planning consultants ICENI Projects, to South Somerset District Council.

Daniel Olliffe, director of ICENI Projects, said his firm would wait until Mr Wood has submitted a formal response to UBS’s objection before commenting further.

He added: “We feel the points we made in our original objections are valid planning points and are based on strong reasoning. We firmly believe that Yeovil town centre should be promoted as the principal shopping destination.”

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