Executive Summary – Key Outputs
The Masterplan identifies three phases of development:
A food store of 6,800sqm (2,600sqm at mezzanine level); a market of 4,356sqm; retail space of 6,270sqm; offices totalling 1,093sqm. An underground car park with 555 parking spaces (200 for food store). Sixty apartments.
A new hotel/JJB/offices/residential block; additional retail space of 1,425sqm; additional offices totalling 4,353 sqm. An additional eighty-five apartments.
A further ninety apartments.
Analysis – Food Store 6,800sqm with 2,600sqm at mezzanine level
This seems quite an unusual suggestion for such a prominent, central location, and it would be interesting to know the rationale behind it. Warrington already has two of the major supermarkets, Asda and Sainsbury’s, within the town centre, a 3 minute and a 5 minute walk from Bridge Street respectively, as well as another two, Tesco and Morrison’s, about half a mile from Bridge Street and a large Lidl on Fennel Street. ‘Regeneration’ in those terms is therefore already amply covered; I rather thought that regenerating a town centre usually involved some sort of cultural focus??
To put the proposed new food store into context, the Asda at Cockhedge is 6540 sqm, Sainsbury’s on Church Street is 6805sqm and Morrisons on Greenhall’s Avenue is 7610sqm. Even with the mezzanine level this will still take up a large part of the proposed area and could dominate the development site disproportionately.
In addition, a Retail and Leisure Study (appendices) prepared for Warrington Borough Council in July 2006 concluded ‘The town is well served by large supermarkets and there is no great quantitive need for additional convenience goods floorspace in Warrington, and no requirement for the Council to identify sites for new supermarkets in the LDF.’ (1.7)
Points for Discussion – Food Store 6,800sqm with 2,600sqm at mezzanine level
What is the rationale for a new town centre supermarket, particularly one of such size? Where will the capacity come from to support it?
Given that there are already representatives of the major supermarkets in the vicinity, who is likely to move in? Will it be someone looking for an additional store or will it be a new brand?
Given that Warrington already has representatives from all the middle-ranking supermarkets, if it is to be a new brand it can only be higher or lower. Does Warrington have the demographic to support a Waitrose? There is already one in Altrincham: are there sufficent customers from Warrington to make them open a store here too? If a budget supermarket – is this going to set the appropriate tone for what is envisaged for the development?
What is envisaged for the development anyway? Has thought been given to its use by people, rather than just as a physical entity? Is it being built for existing residents of Warrington or new people from outside the Borough? If outside, what demographic is being aimed at?
I cannot recall ever having food shopped on two levels, as the 2,600sqm at mezzanine level seems to suggest. Is this feasible? How will it work?
Will it adversely affect business at the Cockhedge Centre, its nearest competitor?
Will it cause an existing supermarket to relocate, creating problems elsewhere?