A MASSIVE new cloud of uncertainty hangs over the future of Tenbury town centre with the revelation that it could be years before the controversial new Tesco supermarket can be built.
The bombshell dropped at Tenbury Town Council is that the supermarket chain still wants to come to the town but it is likely to be many years before the project can come to fruition.
Ken Pollock, who represents Tenbury on Worcestershire County Council, told the town council: “The good news is that Tesco wants to come to Tenbury but the bad news is that there will be a delay,” he said.
“Rumours that Tesco wants to sell the site are not true.
“There are 100 proposed Tesco sites that are not going ahead and Tenbury is not one of them.
“Tesco is definitely going ahead but cannot say when it will happen and it could be two or three years away.”
It was May 2010 when the first public meeting on the Tesco development took place and since then one application was refused and a second planning bid withdrawn before approval was finally given two years ago.
The expectation was that the development which has promised more than 100 new jobs would be open by now.
Town Councillor Joe Watson was not convinced that the project would actually happen but Mr Pollock said he was confident of Tesco’s commitment but admitted that ‘the promise is not written in blood.’ Major problems will now be faced with plans to undertake major improvements to Tenbury town centre as this was going to be part funded by Tesco that has also promised to put nearly £100,000 into local bus services.
Mr Pollock said that the improvements that include better footpaths and roads are now likely to be undertaken in two phases.
It is hoped the first in the part of the town furthest from the River Teme will begin in the autumn before stopping in the run up to Christmas and restarting early in 2015.
But Tenbury then faces a long delay with the job half finished until Tesco begins work on the former Cattle Market site.
A further complication could come because under the terms of the planning approval Tesco has to make a start that includes digging foundations within three years of it being granted.
Time is running out and if this did not happen the company would have to seek an extension from Malvern Hills District Council.
Given that the scheme split the town and resulted in substantial opposition it could mean that the debate is reopened.
The latest move also leaves shops in the town that have concerns about the impact that Tesco would have on their business facing a further period in limbo.
No reason has been given for the delay but it is known that Tesco has been reviewing its programme for new stores in the light of financial and trading challenges.