MORRISONS has been given the green light to build a new Eldene centre, with a large supermarket, as part of a £15m redevelopment project expected to bring about 250 jobs to Swindon.
Swindon Council’s planning committee granted conditional permission of Tuesday to allow the chain to build a 25,000sqft supermarket, with 250 car parking spaces, on the former site of Dorcan House, in Dorcan Way.
The scheme includes three smaller independent retail units alongside the superstore. The council says tenants at the existing parade of shops, with the exception of the Co-op, would be given first refusal to relocate.
The council plans to redevelop the existing parade for non-retail uses, and says that although, as the Co-op argues, the new centre would fail to adequately meet the needs of residents in terms of community facilities, the project is an acceptable first step in regenerating Eldene.
Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Liden, Eldene and Park South) said he was concerned about the possible impact of the new store on the viability of existing shops in Liden, Park South, but overall welcomed the approval.
He said: “I think in a time of recession, it’s good to see a major development which will uplift the local community and give us great opportunities to work with a trader whose intention is to be community-based, and they’ve said they would work with the council to deal with a wide range of issues and any concerns any members of the public may have.
“Because I think it’s good, especially at a time when jobs are being lost to get 250 jobs in the area. I think Eldene, at its time, was fit for purpose. But now it’s a very tired area and it needs to be uplifted and what we’ve got to do is talk and discuss with traders and residents about what we’re going to do with the area once the centre moves.
“I think it’s going to be levelled but what we cannot do is have a demolition site their forever more. We’ve got to have a plan of action of what we’re going to do in the area before things are demolished so everyone known what’s going to happen in the area.”
Morrisons held a public consultation on the project in May. A survey by the chain found 97.78 per cent supported the proposed supermarket, while 94.44 per cent supported the creation of a new Eldene local centre.
A Morrisons spokesman said: “We’re absolutely thrilled and delighted. This is fantastic news because it’s providing a new centre with those three shops. It gathered huge support in our public consultation and we’re looking forward to cracking on and delivering the centre, the investment of £15m and the creating of those 250 jobs.”
He said the chain still hoped to open the supermarket in 2014.