Sainsbury's in tug of war between rival developers of Beverley retail park
SAINSBURY'S is at the centre of a tug of war between rival developers wanting to build a retail park in Beverley.
The food giant says it is keen to come to the town and is keeping its options open.
However, town traders insist the town does not need another shopping park.
East Riding Council's preferred bidder to develop a retail park on the town's Grovehill industrial estate is Lancashire-based Maple Grove Developments.
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But rival developer Litton Properties says it has signed up Sainsbury's so the council-backed scheme is likely to stall. It is now calling on the council to enter talks.
A spokesman for Litton Properties said: "With active engagement from the council, we could deliver major regeneration together.
"The council scheme will stall without a food store operator and so we think it is best to open a dialogue now about our scheme, which can include the council's land.
"This will pave the way for a much more comprehensive and beneficial development to come forward. All we ask is that the council comes to the table to talk."
Litton Properties would install Sainsbury's as the anchor tenant for a new retail park, with major investment improving access for the Capital Business Park, creating some 1,600 jobs.
But the council will not talk with Litton Properties because preferred bidder Maple Grove Developments has exclusivity on the authority's 15-acre site until late summer.
Alan Menzies, the council's director of planning and economic regeneration, said: "The council has entered into an exclusivity agreement with Maple Grove Developments and that will allow them to come forward with detailed proposals in due course.
"They have a period of time to come forward with a detailed proposal, that is standard commercial practice."
Maple Grove Developments is looking to secure Sainsbury's as the anchor store for its development.
Chris Evenson, managing director of Maple Grove Developments, said: "Sainsbury's had a relationship with Litton Properties.
"We don't know the details of that, whether that is coming to an end, or whether they can get out of it – only they and Litton know.
"We have been through the council's selection process and selected as the preferred developer. We have a period of exclusivity.
"We are fully committed to the site and hopefully Sainsbury's will be able to talk to us shortly."
Mr Evenson remains hopeful of securing the food giant for its anchor store.
He said: "Sainsbury's is such a key part of the overall site, we need to get that anchor operator and we then think about the rest of the space.
"We have a number of people who have approached us since we have been selected, there's lot's of interest but there is no point in trying to progress until we have the anchor store."
Sainsbury's has confirmed it still wants to come to Beverley and is reviewing its options.
A spokesman said: "Sainsbury's remains keen to have a main food store in Beverley.
"However, as the council has decided to sell its site to a developer other than Litton Properties, with whom we have an agreement, we must now review our options."
Town trader David Bird said: "The council should scrap the plans for a retail park – retailers have no appetite for more stores, they are closing them.
"The council has to wake up to what's happening in the economy and stop thinking about shops, shops, shops.
"Why the council has signed up with a developer that by the looks of it has no retail backers at all is breathtaking."