The Co-operative Group, which is now the UK’s fifth largest food retailer, is to open a 500,000 sq ft regional distribution centre at Andover, but it is likely to face a bitter planning battle.
It has signed an agreement with developer Goodman for the RDC which will be positioned at the north western corner of the former Andover airfield site, with direct access onto the A303, linking it to London and the South West. It will replace the 863,000 sq ft building which was granted planning permission in August 2009.
The two organisations are now working on a fresh planning application which will be the subject of public consultation shortly.
Goodman proposes to deal with all off site issues in the same way as in the scheme which was granted planning permission in August 2009. For example, the highways measures including the Hundred Acre Interchange, the acoustic treatment on the A303 and the barred routes will remain exactly as already approved by the council. The on-site landscaping and acoustic measures will also be substantially the same.
Trevor Ashworth, director of food retail logistics for the Co-operative Group, said: “With the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain earlier this year, we are in the process of reshaping our distribution network to ensure we continue to provide high standards of service to our customers. Andover is an excellent location from which to serve our stores in this part of southern England. Our planned new RDC will provide both employment and a further boost to the local economy.”
Jason Dalby, managing director of Goodman Logistics UK, said: “We’re delighted that the Co-operative Group has decided to invest in Andover. With the recent granting of planning permission on our site, we are able to offer the Co-operative a degree of certainty on the location. All issues of principle have been resolved within the existing planning consent and we are therefore hopeful of an early decision on the new application so that we can get on and deliver the new Andover Commercial Park.”
The balance of the land at the site will be re-designed to accommodate a range of smaller buildings. Goodman is also committed to maintaining the obligations contained in the Section 106 agreement which accompanies the August 2009 permission, including contributions towards local training and employment initiatives and £200,000 of public art.
A meeting has taken place with Test Valley Borough councillors to provide them with an overview of the latest plans and to outline the Co-operative Group’s aspirations for the site.