When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Tesco urged to give starting date for store
SUPERMARKET giant Tesco is still refusing to give a firm timetable for a new store on the site of a derelict pub in Oxford’s Abingdon Road.
The chain, which has planning permission to demolish the former Fox and Hounds, would not specify a timetable for work to begin on the Tesco Express.
In January last year, after a four-year battle, Tesco was given planning permission to demolish the pub and replace it with a three-storey building with four flats above the store.
But when contacted by the Oxford Mail, Tesco spokesman Simon Petar would not confirm whether work at the site, at the junction of Weirs Lane and Abingdon Road, would get under way this year.
He said: “It is still our intention to build the store in the near future. Following the approval given by the council at the beginning of 2012 we are now in a position to complete the additional technical conditions the council asked of us.
“When we have a clearer timetable for activity we will inform the local community.”
It is understood that Tesco would not have considered starting work until the summer at the earliest when the deadline for a judicial review challenge passed.
But there has been no sign of work at the site, and the Rev Jane Sherwood, vicar of St Luke’s Church in nearby Canning Crescent, said: “This pledge from Tesco sounds very vague and I think they should say if they are going to start this year or not.
“It’s not fair on the local community to keep people guessing.
“I think it’s ironic that Tesco has spent so much time coming up with designs and getting planning permission and then not going ahead with building work.”
Ms Sherwood said she wondered if the serious flooding in Abingdon Road at the Weirs Lane junction last month and in November was putting the supermarket giant off going ahead with its plans.
But Mr Petar said: “The recent flooding is not the reason why development has not yet started.”
The Fox and Hounds has been empty since 2007 and was bought by Tesco the following year.
It was badly damaged in a blaze in July 2009.
People living in the area have been divided over the plans, with some against the store’s impact on local shops, while others said they wanted to see a Tesco Express built.
Chatham Road resident William Rankin, 63, who lives with his wife Margaret, said he sent a letter to Tesco’s board of directors on Wednesday to complain about the delay.
He said: “I was at the meeting in January last year when Tesco got the okay and afterwards their representative said work would start within the year, so I’m not happy.
“Many people in the area desperately want this store because they want more variety and competition over prices when they buy their groceries.”
According to the city council, Tesco has to start work within three years of April 26, 2012.
In August, the chain said it would sell land behind the pub and market it as a potential housing development.
- Contact Tesco with your objections regarding the Fox and Hounds site. Write to Sir Philip Clarke, CEO, New Tesco House, Delamare Road, Cheshunt, Herts, EN8 9SL, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 505555.