Aylesbury’s biggest supermarket is set to be built by Sainsbury’s, creating 300 new jobs for the town.
The 70,000 sq ft Gatehouse Road store will be a major rival to Tesco’s 50% market share of the town, according to Sainsbury’s regional development executive, Tim Watkins.
Speaking exclusively to The Bucks Herald, he said: “There is a very strong case for a Sainsbury’s on that site. Our proposals represent a major investment in Aylesbury and demonstrate our confidence in the town.”
The plans also include refurbishing Sainsbury’s Buckingham Street store, demolishing the old Odeon cinema and empty offices, and building 50 new retirement apartments and new retail units.
Although the site will not include a petrol station, Mr Watkins said the retail giant is keen to open one in the town, and is actively seeking a site in Aylesbury.
The Gatehouse store would be bigger than Tesco Broadfields, will offer the full range of Sainsbury’s food items, hot food counters, clothing and a customer restaurant. The site will also provide around 500 car parking spaces, and in order to ensure as little disruptions as possible to the neighbouring roads, Sainsbury’s says it plans to widen Gatehouse Road outside the site and signalise the Gatehouse Way junction.
The firm has, however, said it does not anticipate much more traffic will be attracted into town as a result of the store, as its intention is to compete with the existing supermarkets in Aylesbury.
Mr Watkins said: “The current scheme we have in Aylesbury does not allow us to compete with Tesco, as people will always tend to use the bigger stores.
“This two-store approach will therefore give us a better opportunity.”
He added that the Gatehouse store will have a first-floor retail space, meaning the 500-space car park will be on ground level, and there will be escalators leading up to the shopping area.
And the new jobs created by the store will also go to those living in the Vale, as Sainsbury’s is committed to recruiting locally, said Mr Watkins. The new supermarket will also have a staff canteen and offices.
Sainsbury’s is also looking to build 25 new ‘affordable’ apartments opposite the Leybourne Homes development on Bicester Road.
There are two public consultation events coming up, giving people the chance to find out more and voice their opinions.
These are to take place on September 14 from 4-7pm in the Olympic Room at Aylesbury Vale District Council’s offices in Gatehouse Road, and on September 15 from 10am-2pm in the car park of the Buckingham Street Sainsbury’s store.
A new website was also launched on Monday afternoon displaying the plans, and giving an online opportunity for public feedback. Visit www.sainsburys-aylesbury.co.uk
Once locals have given their views, Sainsbury’s will submit its plans to Aylesbury Vale District Council.
The Gatehouse site, which will face the Texaco garage, currently has permission for ‘mixed use’, so Mr Watkins feels fairly confident that Sainsbury’s has a good case for approval.
And, unlike the previous plans set out by Sainsbury’s for its Buckingham Street store, it now owns all the land for which it has proposals, meaning it will not face land acquisition issues as before.
The two plans are also legally linked, meaning that one project cannot happen without the other.