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Sainsbury's pulls plug on deal with Canterbury City Council for new supermarket in Kingsmead Road, Canterbury

By Alex Claridge

Sainsbury's has abandoned plans for a new supermarket in Kingsmead - striking a massive blow to Canterbury City Council's plans to breathe new life into the area.

The retail giant blames the decision not to press ahead with a new superstore opposite its current store on changing shopping patterns in the food sector.

In January the council revealed that the Sainsbury's move involved a larger store with a petrol station, leaving the current site free for leisure facilities such as a cinema and restaurant.

Sainsbury's in Kingsmead Road
Sainsbury's in Kingsmead Road

Council leader Cllr John Gilbey said: "This is very disappointing news as we have spent a great deal of time developing plans but we understand the financial challenges faced by food retailers and their need to meet changing customer shopping patterns.

"We are very confident that we will still be able to redevelop the depot and old coach park to a high standard, offering a great range of facilities for local residents.

"More information will be released when our initial investigations are concluded.”

Sainsbury's had been working with developer Land Securities and were together known as the Harvest Partnership.

The field at Kingsmead
The field at Kingsmead

Its plans for the area also included the Serco depot and the Coldharbour flats overlooking Kingsmead roundabout.

The council says it will now look alternative plans for the area.

It described the area as "an attractive site" with the "potential for a mixture of uses including leisure, retail, business and residential, as was envisaged in the original development brief in 2004".

City council leader John Gilbey
City council leader John Gilbey

Council spokesman Rob Davies added: "This setback will not have repercussions on the other planned developments as part of the Kingsmead area regeneration project.

"Subject to the necessary council decisions, the improvements to the leisure centre will go ahead as planned, while early discussions are already underway with local community groups regarding the future of the Kingsmead field.

"This development will not have any impact on those negotiations.“

Ross Castle, Sainsbury's portfolio development manager, said: "We regularly review our schemes in terms of financial viability and in the context of changing shopping patterns. Unfortunately, it is no longer financially viable to progress these proposals any further.

"It is a disappointing decision and one that we have carefully considered. We do remain committed to our Kingsmead Road store."

Campaigners fighting to protect the Kingsmead Field, which is included included in the Kingsmead regeneration area, say the council has assured them that the Sainsbury's decision will not affect the field's future.

The Save the Kingsmead Field campaign will be holding a public meeting to discuss the future at the Northgate Ward Community Centre in Military Road at 7.30pm on Monday, April 14.

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