All bets off as Tesco and Sedgemoor “discuss a way forward”

secret meeting
Sedgemoor councillors meet behind closed doors and are sworn to secrecy.

 Will a big Tesco Extra store be built on the Brewery Field in Bridgwater? The signals coming from a secretive planning process indicate the project is about to collapse. Sedgemoor Council discussed Tesco in private session this afternoon.

Councillors are sworn to secrecy about what was said. But there have been some public statements. From the safe distance of Minehead, Andy Lewis has been looking at the straws in the wind and has this report:

Let’s look first at what Sedgemoor District Council are saying:

“The S106 Agreement has not yet been completed; thus planning permission cannot be issued. The Development Agreement is conditional upon planning permission being issued. The terms of the Development Agreement were agreed by Full Council. Therefore, to enable officers to discuss a way forward with Tesco Stores Ltd, on behalf of the Council, delegated authority was required. Delegated authority was therefore given to a Corporate Director to discuss further with Tesco Stores Ltd.”

‘It’s all going horribly wrong….’


Tesco. Still a multi billion pound global corporation.

Doesn’t sound like a project that’s going swimmingly, does it? In fact, if I had to guess I would say all that jargon is council-speak for “it’s all going horribly wrong.”

So what does Tesco say:

“We are exploring a range of options over the best use for the Bridgwater site. We are continuing close discussions ……. over the most appropriate route forward.”

A range of options, eh? It doesn’t seem that long ago when there was only one option. Architect’s drawings of a big new superstore were on the table and if you wanted something else… err, that was it.

 Tesco’s market share has slumped

splash campaign
Once there was a swimming pool…..

So what has brought about this change? Well, there’s not much secret about that. Tesco’s market share has slumped and big stores like the one planned for Bridgwater are seen as part of the problem, not the solution. The Retail Gazette said:

“Tesco’s strategy on store formats has changed significantly …. The Tesco Extra and Superstore format, has been replaced with a focus on convenient Tesco Express stores, playing to the trend of frequent, local shopping. This commitment was emphasised with the announcement that 4,000 new homes are to be built on now un-useable sites in Tesco ownership.”

final call
…and suddenly it was gone.

It’s not just Bridgwater, then. And Tesco’s new boss, Dave Lewis, said recently he wants to proceed in an “economically viable way our shareholders can appreciate”. Not building big shops no-one wants to go to might be a way of doing that.

It’s been five years since a brilliant swimming pool – Sedgemoor Splash – was knocked down. It seems a terrible waste just to get us to the point where Tesco and Sedgemoor Council are discussing “a range of options” in the search for “a way forward.”


















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