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A new Sainsbury’s in Canterbury will be twice the size of the present store – and built on stilts.
As revealed in the Kentish Gazette last week, city council chiefs have already negotiated a deal with the supermarket giant to create a new superstore on the Serco depot and former coach park in Kingsmead.
The council is at this stage refusing to reveal how much money Sainsbury’s is paying it for the land, but expects work on the 10,000 square-metre store to start in late 2015 or early 2016 with work finishing in 2017.
The present Sainsbury’s building, covering 4,723 sq metres, will be converted into a multiplex cinema and restaurants, similar to those at Westwood Cross in Broadstairs.
There are no details about which companies might occupy them.
Council chief executive Colin Carmichael said: “Things may move around and change and not exactly happen like this, but I’m reasonably sure these plans will happen.
“In the years leading up to 2017, we are facing a 40% reduction in our income and this is all about making the most of our assets.
“It’s about earning some cash and if we do that, it won’t go into a bank account in Guatemala, it will be reinvested in other facilities.”
Sainsbury’s has entered into a marriage with developer Land Securities to build the new store.
Together they are titled the Harvest Partnership and have been in discussions with the council for 18 months. However, when the Gazette asked Sainsbury’s last summer about a new supermarket, the company denied it had any plans to quit its present store.
Mr Carmichael revealed Sainsbury’s demanded total secrecy around the plans in case competitors became interested in the site.
A new supermarket, he said, would sit on stilts because the area is a floodplain. There would be parking underneath and a petrol station is included in the outline plans.
The whole site would comprise the Serco depot, former coach park, the flats called Cold Harbour which overlook the roundabout and the commercial premises at the Kingsmead end of Sturry Road up to, but not including, the ATS tyres garage.
People living in Cold Harbour will be put to the top of East Kent Housing’s ladder and found new homes before the flats are demolished.
Council leader John Gilbey said: “The Sainsbury’s store would have about the same space for its food, but it would be much bigger to incorporate non-food sales, things like clothes or electrical goods.
“There is a similar Sainsbury’s to the one this one will be in the middle of Welwyn Garden City and it’s very successful.”
Refurbishing the “knackered” Kingsmead Leisure Centre will cost the district’s tax payers £5.5 million, paid for by money generated by the sale of assets.
It will be carried out in phases so that the centre remains open, but some facilities will be out of action.
Mr Carmichael said that just over two years ago the council debated whether it should provide any leisure facilities at all.
It decided it would and would upgrade the sports centre instead of building new leisure facilities.
“However, the leisure centre is basically knackered,” Mr Carmichael said.
“The whole process details have got to be worked out, but they would be done on a rolling basis so that we won’t have to completely close the leisure centre.”
There are three proposed phases, starting with pool adaptations and new changing rooms followed by work on the health and fitness and community areas and finally work on the reception and outside of the building.
Funding is due to be approved in April. Work is then scheduled to start in 2015 and last around a year.
The Kingsmead Field could be carved in two – with one half kept green and the other built upon.
Canterbury City Council insists it will not yet draw up a definitive plan for the field, which is currently awaiting the outcome of a village green application.
But on Tuesday it unveiled two proposals for cutting the field up: One option involves building homes on the half furthest from Kingsmead Road while the other involves building on the half nearest the road and leaving green spaces next to the river and beyond the proposed homes.
The council says it has a “developer in principle” for the five-acre field.
However, it will not reveal the firm’s name nor speculate on the number of homes which could be built.
Council chief executive Colin Carmichael said: “The National Planning Policy Framework tells you protect open spaces, but if you don’t build houses you get slaughtered.”
Council chiefs met with residents on Tuesday afternoon, including those from the Save the Kingsmead Field Campaign who submitted an application to prevent development on the field by registering it as a village green.
Kent County Council’s village green panel met in November, but postponed making a decision until a Supreme Court ruling on village greens due in late spring.
“The National Planning Policy Framework tells you protect open spaces, but if you don’t build houses you get slaughtered...” - Colin Carmichael
If, however, the county council rejects the application then the city council will be able to make the whole field available to developers.
Sian Pettman, of Market Way, who has co-ordinated the Save the Kingsmead Field Campaign, is unimpressed by plans to carve up the field.
She said: “We would want the whole field to stay – it’s sense of place was historically defined by water meadows and then sport.
“For that reason we have got to keep outdoor sporting provisions as part of Kingsmead. We want to enhance the field and that means seeing sport back on it. Therefore, cutting the field in half is not viable.
“We understand the extreme financial pressure local government is under, but we want to see our council working together with residents. That has not happened so far.”
The plans will be discussed by the overview committee on Wednesday and by the executive next Thursday.
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