Editor’s Comment: Food for thought for the future as Sainsbury hint at u-turn over store plans

Roger Hawes
Roger Hawes

Like many here in Aylesbury I applaud and support our council’s ongoing work to revitalise the town.

Like many here in Aylesbury I applaud and support our council’s ongoing work to revitalise the town.

After a long prolonged recession there have been great partnerships forged to breathe new life into some of our rundown areas.

So last week’s news that food giant Sainsbury may be getting cold feet over its plans for a superstore on land in Gatehouse Road is most disappointing.

Not because I will be sad at missing out on another supermarket in the town but because of the wider aesthetic repercussions for Aylesbury.

Of course you should never judge a book by its cover but let’s be honest, many parts of Aylesbury remain tatty and unloved.

This alone sends out the wrong message to visitors and to us longtime residents, a sadness that our town’s looks are being neglected.

Sainsbury’s plan, already given the go-ahead by AVDC, includes building a store on an abandoned eyesore site at the junction with Bicester Road and Gatehouse Road, a new petrol station nearby on a site that has been empty for years, refurbishment and revitalisation of its existing tired Buckingham Street store and building of new retail units and retirement apartments.

Now that multi-million pound deal is in danger as Sainsbury, like many other food giants, runs into financial rethinks over expansion plans.

There are also stories circulating that Lidl, due to take over the old abandoned Vauxhall site in Bicester Road, has had second thoughts and this won’t be happening, either.

Of course Rome wasn’t built in a day and the town can chalk up some great successes on the south side of town with new business from the theatre, and Waitrose with an eye on the future for the Waterside development and new education centre.

However, all of this does not get away from the fact that Aylesbury still has a lot of work to do to change people’s perceptions of being a rundown town.

Building thousands more houses on the town’s outskirts and ruining communities’ way of life while leaving large chunks of land, old industrial sites and offices empty doesn’t cut it for me – but like all things in life, emotions will be swept aside for profit.

The future will all be down to cold, hard cash.