Tesco denies delay rumours over Banff store
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TESCO has dismissed claims that it could be at least three more years before a long-awaited superstore is built in Banff.
Rumours have been rife in the town that the project was being put on hold – with a knock-on effect for proposed new community sports facilities.
It has been 12 years since Tesco first showed interest in replacing its store in Carmelite Street, and a few months ago Aberdeenshire Council was granted a Court of Session petition to sell land at Banff’s Canal Park to the company.
That was supposed to be the “final hurdle” to allowing building work to proceed, but stories have been circulating – not least of all from Tesco staff – that there would be no new store for at least three years.
There is also speculation that the retailing giant is having second thoughts because of allegedly disappointing trading at the firm’s massive new store in Buckie.
This week, however, a Tesco spokeswoman insisted that while there was no exact timescale for work, there had been no decision on the part of the company to delay the Banff store.
“Our project team is actively working on this with the council at the moment,” she said.
“Tesco representatives met with Aberdeenshire Council officials two weeks ago to discuss the next steps in the planning process, so that Tesco can be issued with planning and roads consent.
“We remain fully committed, with the council, to delivering this project.”
The Court of Session approval was required as the proposed store site is Common Good land, gifted to the people of Banff and Macduff by the Duke of Fife in 1906 for leisure purposes.
It is understood that the land had a price tag of £7.5 million, which will go towards new sports and community facilities in the area, with the council contributing a further £2.5 million.
Councillor John Cox told ‘The Banffshire Journal’ this week: “I would find it extremely disappointing if there was any further delay.
“We were given indications three years ago that the Court of Session was imminent. We were advised that it would happen last spring and then autumn, and then when it did finally come, we were told it was the final hurdle.
“This issue is of enormous public interest. People want a bigger store built, and new sport facilities, and I would be extremely concerned if we were looking at three years before anything happens.
“Tesco and the sports facilities are the catalyst for the regeneration of Banff and Macduff.
“As well as the hundreds of jobs involved, the store, it would energise other economic development in the area.
“We need education, stores and leisure if people want to live and work here. At the moment, we do not tick all the boxes.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “Negotiations regarding the various elements of the Canal Park project are continuing.
“With regard to the supermarket application, this is progressing under the planning process, and officers are working with Tesco to finalise the necessary legal agreement.
“Planning permission for the leisure facilities has already been granted, and will move forward following the sale of land at Canal Park.
“Detailed timescales for the various elements of the project are under discussion.”