Published: 12:00, 14 May 2014
A supermarket giant has shelved its plans to open in Ashford.
Morrisons revealed last November that it proposed building a huge shop along Victoria Road, opposite furniture store Homeplus.
Plans for the development included a 76,000 sq ft foodstore, a petrol filling station and nine flats.
Henry Davidson Developments, acting on behalf of Morrisons, was expected to submit a planning application to Ashford Borough Council (ABC) for the scheme sometime this year.
But in a shock U-turn this week the firm informed the landowner, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), that it would not be proceeding with the new shop.
Morrisons says the decision to pull the plans is based on “a national strategic review of all of its stores”.
HCA spokeswoman Emma Drake said: “The landowner of the Victoria Road development site in Ashford, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), has been informed by Henry Davidson Developments Ltd (HDDL), the proposed purchaser of the site, that it is revising its proposed scheme, following a decision by Morrisons the supermarket, which was at the centre of the current proposals, not to proceed with a new store at this location.
“Morrisons have informed HDDL that the decision not to proceed was based on the outcome of a national strategic review of all of its stores in the pipeline, and that this one was considered not to be right at this time for them.”
According to the HCA, Henry Davidson Developments is still planning to build on the Victoria Road site and, although it is not known what the development will be, it is likely to include a mix of homes and shops.
Ms Drake added: “HDDL has confirmed, however, that it is keen to proceed with a development at Victoria Road. HDDL has already started to look at future options for the site.
“Both HDDL and the HCA’s objective is still to provide a high quality mix of homes, retail and other uses."
Cllr Graham Galpin, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for the town centre and urban economy, said: “Of course we’re disappointed and we would have liked to see them there.
“But we’re sure something else will come along in the near future. We’re confident Ashford is still heading in the right direction.”
An ABC spokesman added: “While it is disappointing news it appears that Morrison’s decision is more a reflection of their national position, rather than on Ashford specifically.
“Ashford remains an attractive location for investment, as John Lewis at home, Waitrose, Debenhams, Eureka Park, the Designer Outlet expansion and Panorama, amongst others, clearly demonstrates.
“We believe this is an ideal development site in a prime town centre location and we will be working with the HCA and other interested parties to find suitable alternative occupiers for the site.”