Sainsbury's in Saffron Walden land swap bid
A SUPERMARKET giant has offered to build Saffron Walden Museum s new �1.4 million resource centre in return for a land swap. Sainsbury s has targeted a site on Thaxted Road – which has already been earmarked for the Heritage Quest Centre development – to
A SUPERMARKET giant has offered to build Saffron Walden Museum's new �1.4 million resource centre in return for a land swap.
Sainsbury's has targeted a site on Thaxted Road - which has already been earmarked for the Heritage Quest Centre development - to build a new superstore.
Director of central services at Uttlesford District Council (UDC), Adrian Webb, confirmed that Sainsbury's had requested an "exchange" of land between the two proposed neighbouring developments.
He added that the supermarket's representatives had "suggested a section 106 agreement be entered into as a result of which Sainsbury's would undertake to build the Heritage Quest Centre to a specification provided by the council".
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Chairman of the Museum Resource Centre Project Team, Cllr Keith Eden, said that the deal was being taken seriously by the council and the museum.
"There could be some opportunities here for the Heritage Quest Centre to get a site with better access and parking," he said.
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"On the original plan there is a risk that the centre is being built without the quality of access that it was supposed to have.
"We could find that access to the site is through Sainsbury's car park, which is not a huge issue but it's not ideal."
The two sites which could be swapped are both near to the council's recycling centre, but one offers more possibilities to the supermarket.
"Sainsbury's current site is untidy and not a good fit," said Cllr Eden. "The resource centre's site would give them a more efficient use of space."
Cllr Robert Chambers added: "The centre is on a site that would be more convenient for Sainsbury's to put in a petrol station which is close to the road."
The Heritage Quest Centre will house the museum's extensive reserve collection of archaeology and history relating to north-west Essex and make it available to the public.
Much of the funding for the project has been granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund who would have to agree to any deal with Sainsbury's.
Cllr Eden said: "Matters are still very much ongoing and there are a number of issues that need to be resolved before this can be taken any further."
A spokesman for Sainsbury's said: "The Sainsbury's scheme, which will provide more choice and competition for customers, will also benefit both proposals if such a land swap takes place.
"The swap would give the Heritage Quest Centre a prominent and stand-alone position, better overall site access and traffic flows, and give Sainsbury's a more self-contained site with an improved customer car park.
"Discussions are still ongoing, both technical and financial, and no decisions have been made."
A planning application for Sainsbury's is expected to be submitted in October and an outcome known sometime in the New Year. If they are successful the resource centre would be built by October 2010.
The matter will be discussed a UDC's full council meeting on October 20.