This afternoon, Crewe’s largest Tesco outlet – the one backing on to the Heritage Centre, that used to be a Safeway – was open for business. But, so what? Well, the successors to Terry Leahy are sitting on planning consent to demolish that store and replace it with a “supermarket on stilts” on the same site. It hasn’t happened yet, despite the consent coming back in December.
The reason for Tesco not pursuing this newly acquired nuclear option can be seen across the main road: the building partially unoccupied since MFI deservedly went bust still has Dunelm Mill in occupation. Getting them out, as I considered back in July last year, will trigger the redevelopment of the site into another “supermarket on stilts” – this one a Sainsbury’s.
It was the action by Sainsbury’s that prompted Tesco into making their move. The problem was that there was nowhere to expand on their current site. Despite the rumours about the future of the Heritage Centre – moving to part of the Works is favourite – there does not appear to be any chance of Tesco getting their hands on that site.
So Tesco, rather in the manner of a Cold War arms race, opted for the same style development as Sainsbury’s, the difference being that the Tesco will have two storeys above its car park. Hopefully any windows facing the Heritage Centre will be permanently sealed, for those occasions when there are boilers being steam tested, or locomotives being lit and coaled ready for charter trains.
So, for now, both retailers await the removal of Dunelm Mill. After that, and in the name of choice, more floor space will be provided for a population that does not give the impression of needing or wanting it.