New Tesco store plan put on ice
THE planned expansion to Tesco in Pembury has stalled as the company reviews its policy for building large stores.
The chain stressed it still planned to open an extended store on Pembury Road but said the start date was now "under review".
Tesco had originally aimed to open its new-look supermarket in Pembury by December, but the chain has instead focused on upgrading existing stores after suffering poor Christmas trade nationally.
Its corporate affairs manager Jonathan Simpson said this week: "We fully intend to build a replacement for our popular store in Pembury.
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"We had an overwhelmingly positive response to our planning application to build a new store and intend to start when we are able to.
"Our start date is currently under review so I cannot give an exact start date for the work."
News that the company has delayed its expansion at Pembury will come as no surprise, after chief executive Philip Clarke said in January that hypermarkets – out-of-town shops selling non-food items – were a "less potent force" in modern shopping.
David Coleman, chairman of the parish council's planning working group, said residents would welcome the new store whenever it opened.
"We will wait and see," he said. "People may be a bit disappointed that they will not get the choice of more merchandise and a wider variety of things on sale right away."
Tesco has permission to create a 5,539sq m store – three times the size of the existing outlet. It would create around 140 jobs and would include a town centre park-and-ride facility.
One condition of the planning permission is that construction must be underway by January 2015.