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Sainsbury's pulls out of plans for supermarket on Medway City Estate, Strood

Sainsbury’s has scrapped plans for a huge superstore on the Medway City Estate which would have created 500 jobs.

Original planning permission had been sought six years ago for a 64,000 sq ft store with 413 parking spaces for shoppers.

The retail giant also promised to improve roads in the area, and provide a park-and-ride service as part of the £5.5 million project.

A computer-generated image of the Sainsbury's supermarket planned for the Medway City Estate
A computer-generated image of the Sainsbury's supermarket planned for the Medway City Estate

It was given the go-ahead by Medway councillors, against their planning officers’ advice, but still had to go to communities secretary Eric Pickles for approval.

Since then, however, the plan to develop the land in Strood, previously owned by DIY firm B&Q has stalled.

As well as selling normal groceries and drink, the planning permission allowed Sainsbury’s to sell a wide range of non-food products, including electrical goods, books, crockery and mobile phones.

However, it was revealed this week the supermarket giant dropped the scheme three months ago.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said the company had talks with Medway Council about three months ago to discuss options for the site.

She added: “We are currently working with the local council to market the site so we can bring it back into use at the earliest possible opportunity.

The spokeswoman also said that the decision to pull out of the plans was because people had changed their habits and were turning to more convenience shopping, making the investment in the bigger store not viable.

The news of the U-turn comes two months after Tesco announced it would close its Chatham branch with the loss of 100 jobs.

The announcement followed a nationwide scaling back of Tesco operations, including a raft of store closures and scrapping of new shops and expansions, after the retailer announced a huge dent in its profits last month.

The Chatham store is the only one in Kent to shut its doors and its last day of trading will be on Easter Saturday, April 4.

A major redevelopment of the Tesco in Cuxton Road, Strood, had already been put on hold.

Tesco also has an Extra store in Courteney Road, Gillingham, a Metro in Rainham Shopping Centres, and Express convenience stores in Gillingham, Strood and Lordswood.

Plans for a new Tesco Metro store in Chatham, were rejected by councillors in early February.

Just a week after announcing the closure of the superstore in The Brook, the supermarket giant’s plan for a Metro shop on the E-Cars showroom in Luton High Street was refused by Medway’s planning committee.

Previously, more than 500 people signed a petition against the plans, and the planning committee agreed to a site visit.

A Medway Council spokesman added: “Sainsbury’s still have full planning permission to build a new store on the Medway City Estate.

"While the council was aware they were potentially going to consider some other options, including a smaller convenience type store, they have not formally pulled their interest in building on the site.”

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